Some day we’ll see green grass again in Ohio, but some day is not happening this week, or next week, or probably the next week. Just so you know, the weather in Tororo, Uganda is around 90 degrees right now. This time next winter we will be sweating, and right about now as we experience sub zero temperatures, I feel totally ok with that! So to combat the cold, cooped up feelings we get around this house, I bring you more toddler friendly indoor activities! I want to create an atmosphere of learning and fun for the girls, and honestly, activities are a complete necessity around here these days. They add a small degree of structure and learning, and give the girls something to look forward to and focus on something new when they are stuck inside all day.
The first one is simple snow play! When you have a ton of snow outside, but really it’s just too cold to actually go out and play in it, bring it inside! They scooped they poured, they tasted, and then they fussed when their fingers got too cold.
We then decided to make the snow into snow ice-cream and even though it was right before lunch, we ate it. I mean you only live once, right? Yup, I totally threw a yolo phrase at ya. I’ve been waiting so long to put that out there, and now it’s done-never again…hopefully…probably.
The recipe I found on Pinterest for snow ice-cream was very simple, and since it’s basically just sugar and snow, I suggest you don’t include this as a key part of your winter diet, but as a special, “why is winter soooo long treat!!?” it should work just fine. We used one egg with 2 cups of milk and whisked these two together until nice and frothy. Then added 1 cup of sugar, and a little vanilla. We added in clean snow to our heart’s desire, continued whisking, and then we had ourselves some snow ice-cream! This actually made a pretty large amount for us, and after storing it in the freezer, we did have it again a few days later, but it was VERY hard. They still liked it though!
I love how in the last picture Gracie is trying to eat Lillie’s snow ice cream after she already finished all of hers. I can only imagine Lillie’s indignation and her face in this picture says it all for me!
The next pictures include ideas of simply taking what you have in your home and using it in a new way, or taking advantage of everyday tasks and putting a new twist on them.
Always have blocks strewn all over your floor? Me too! Just by putting down a a few blankets to serve as the “block station”, helped contain the mess and for some reason made blocks more fun. Have a free building session or sit down and build a city with the edge of the blankets being the city limits. I’m sure the possibilities are endless!
Take whatever art supplies you have and have a free paint, collage art time. It might get a little messy, but they’ll get the creative juices flowing. Use paint, glue, tissue paper, markers, or whatever you have available. Tell them to start creating and see what they come up with. Have them explain their picture to you after they are done. You may even be able to get a few things done or actually drink that cup of coffee you microwaved an hour ago and forgot about…again.
Remember when I talked about using colored and essential oil infused rice for super easy sensory play? Well we have stored all the rice that didn’t get swept up off the floor and have been pulling it as needed. Change it up a bit and add new elements each time you play with the rice. Throw in some letters or numbers in the rice and have them uncover them. One new item can give them a whole new experience with an old activity.
This last one might just be my favorite. Let them help you clean! Gracie is at an age where cleaning is fun and she wants to help, so I’m learning to let her! Even if the task may take a little longer, or if I have to go back and touch it up later when she isn’t looking, it’s important to include her. I recently filled a small spray bottle with water and a few drops of lavender essential oil. We designated a special spot in the kitchen where she can reach this and now she has her very own cleaning supply. When it’s time to clean up, she can grab her spray bottle and walk around the kitchen spraying and wiping down things. The spray bottle is actually a little hard for little fingers to spray, but she has figured it out and it’s giving her tiny fingers good practice and building strength. She feels like such a big girl being included in this simple task, and she leaves my kitchen smelling like lavender!
I hope this helps ignite some new idea for you all as we make it through another winter week. If you are looking for a great read and ideas on how to learn and play with your little ones at home, I’m loving reading The Homegrown Preschooler. It’s opening up my eyes to new things and reminding me how important everyday tasks are in teaching our children and loving them well. I just checked it out from the library and totally recommend it! Also, remember how next winter I’ll be someplace warm, while you all are buried in snow. I promise I’ll try not to rub it in…maybe.
I should have known what was coming. I was a little foolish to think that this time would be different and that I could handle this on my own. Well, technically, I could, and did handle it, but it may have gone smoother with an extra set of hands. An extra set of hands to scoop up the three year old that was trying to escape. She shook her head no, cried hot tears of knowing some amount of discomfort was to come, and ran the other way. With little sis in tow I scooped big sis up. The lab tech asked if they should shut all the doors. We were going to have to corral her in some how. Held tightly on my lap she resisted. She kicked and fussed and I tried to reassure and remind her of upcoming cupcakes, but when you’re three and in the midst of it, and the needle is coming towards your arm, you don’t understand reasoning. But then it was over. Blood drawn, and she wanted to go watch Sophia The First out in the lobby again. Now it was little sis’s turn and while she wasn’t too thrilled with it all either, she’s a little smaller and easier to wrangle than a feisty three year old.
And while this only started out as a little look at what a blood draw for a one year old and a three year old can look like when you decide to go take them by yourself, I recognized myself in Gracie. In the fighting, screaming, defiance of a three year old, there is my 26 year old self. I usually don’t kick and throw fits on the outside, but sometimes my heart does. Sometimes in the midst of it, I just don’t understand. I want to say no and run the other direction from what God may be reassuring me is the right thing to do. My defiance may not take on as quite a dramatic display as that of my daughter, but the quiet defiances of my heart are still there. I don’t really like to think about them much, and it does seem easier to just brush them away and walk the other direction. To be like Jonah, fleeing from his calling to go to Ninevah. It may seem easier and that our plans are all well and good, BUT GOD.
“I’ll run away! Jonah said to himself. Far away-so far away that God won’t be able to find me. Then I won’t have to do what God says! It’s a good plan! he said, because, as far as he knew, it was a good plan. But of course, it wasn’t a good plan at all. It was a silly plan. (Because you can run away from God, but he will always come and find you.)” This is an excerpt from the Jesus Storybook Bible. I love the kid friendly accessibility of this Bible and how its wording can jolt this mama’s heart and bring her to tears. Just like Gracie or Jonah, we may try to flee, but something pulls us back. In Gracie’s case, I pulled her close and gave her reassurance that even though she was going to have to do this hard thing, that in the end it would be better and there would even be cupcakes afterwards! (If only everything had cupcakes at the end. Scratch that. That’s probably a bad idea). In Jonah’s case he tried to run from God. But God. But God pulled him back. God shook him up a little and reminded Jonah of the purpose that God had for him. A calling to bring others to repentance and come back to God because He loved them. And when my defiant heart turns away and kicks and screams, I’m thankful for His grace. I’m thankful He pulls me back, reminds me of my purpose, and gives me chance after chance. I’m grateful He still loves me and that He will always find me where ever I am.
Both girls dressing up in tutus and tiaras/Lillie trying to talk and say ball, cat, and duck/Lillie walking clumsily around living room, sippy cup in hand, head tipped back, body out of balance/Lillie climbing off perch to dance to Shake it Off excitedly/Blood draws/Cupcakes/Empty library/Lillie using a spoon to eat/Snow play/Snow ice cream/ Gracie reading words/Friends that get my humor/Sled riding behind Ventrac with cousins/Sunday dinner at parents/Christ’s promise to always be with us and never give us more than we can handle/Decluttering with Dustin
7:45 Everyone is fed and food has been thrown all over the floor
8:00 Daddy is out the door. Count down to daddy getting back home begins.
8:15 Put lemon and grapefruit essential oil in my water for immune boosting, metabolism revving benefits and try to remember to actually drink water.
8:30 After reading a morning Bible story with the girls, I pull up an awesome and educational Pinterest activity that will keep them engaged and learning.
8:45 They’re ready for another activity.
9:00 Ready for another activity.
9:05 Throw in a load of laundry.
9:10 Ready for another activity.
9:12 Wipe down counters and sweep up food that was thrown all over floor at breakfast.
9:15 Ready for another activity…you get the idea.
9:30 Diffuse either joy or thieves essential oil in the diffuser like no one’s business. Because we don’t have time to be sick or throw fits…at least that’s the hope.
10:00 Read an entire stack of books either involving woodland creatures, farm animals, or princesses.
10:30 Try to clean up the kitchen a little before I have to get it messy again at lunch time. Also take a moment to wonder what having a dishwasher would be like…
11:00 The kids are starving. Lillie is frantically motioning to her mouth to eat. You would think the kid hasn’t eaten in days!
11:30 Lunch is over and I tell Gracie that she and Lillie can play for a bit while mommy cleans up, and then it will be nap time.
11:35 Lillie is crying. Gracie tried to put blankets and pillows on top of her and Lillie didn’t like it.
11:40 Music is blaring. Gracie is naked dancing and Lillie has brought one of Gracie’s tutus to me and wants it on.
12:00 Potty with Gracie. Change into pjs if not still in pjs, because there will be a meltdown if she is not wearing pjs at nap time. Find her pink bunny, fill up milk cup, and pick out a book to read.
12:15 Read nap time story while Lillie is just about getting to the end of her rope and clinging to my leg begging for sleep. Sing Wheels on the Bus, followed by Jesus Loves Me. Remind Gracie that she needs to stay in bed and actually try to nap.
12:30 Nurse Lillie to sleep, lay her down in the crib with teddy bear and pray that Gracie is still in her bed.
12:45 If all goes well, this mama now has maybe an hour and a half to perhaps eat lunch, get some work down, sew, dare I say read a book peacefully or scroll through my Facebook feed! I’m slathering on stress away essential oil to help me relax…all over!
2:30 Both girls are up. Gracie gets to watch one show after nap. I wash dishes…again…how do we have so many dirty dishes!?
3:00 Music is blaring again. This time Gracie has on her full princess attire. Crown, gloves, gown, high heels, and wand. Lillie may be found dancing, watching Gracie, playing quietly, or on my hip. Lillie may still be in her pjs.
3:30 I TRY to start getting things together for dinner. Try is emphasized for a reason.
4:00 Daddy will be home in one hour…
4:30 Maybe pull out some coloring books, play dough, cooking utensils, pots and pans, something to keep the littles busy while mama finishes up what can only be described at its best as mediocre cooking. Dustin is a good man for putting up with my “trying to be healthy, but kind of messed it up” kind of cooking.
5:00 Daddy is home! Girls are already at the table and half way through their food because once again, they are starving and apparently haven’t eaten in days. Except that granola bar and whole pile of grapes an hour ago…
5:15 Normal dinner conversation heard: “Sit down. Eat your dinner. You’re going to fall off your chair. Don’t throw your plate off the table. “
5:30 Daddy helps clean up the kitchen. Good man.
6:00 Music back on and it’s family dance party time! I’m really glad we never dance in public.
6:30 Attempt to wind down. Give the girls a bath and add a drop of lavender. Read books if we have time and pick up living room.
6:50 Potty time for Gracie, brush teeth, find bunny, fill up milk cup. Pjs on, feet are oiled up with all sorts of sleepy time oils and the diffuser is on in Lillie’s room.
7:00 Daddy gets to read, pray, sing and tuck in Gracie. I nurse Lillie, pray, sing and tuck her in.
7:30 After Dustin and I read our devotional and pray, I go say goodnight to Gracie if she is still awake…and sing Wheels on the Bus for the last time that day.
7:35 Tuck Gracie back in bed because she is standing at her bedroom door. Ask her why she got out of bed. “Because I love you”.
7:45 Sew, get work done, blog, stay up way too late watching a tv series for no good reason other than because I can.
11ish Dustin and I crawl into bed for some sleep, because tomorrow we do it all over again!
Honestly, I love being a Mom!
If you’re a mom of littles, what do your days look like? We use a lot of prayer, essential oils, Pinterest activities and heaps of grace to get us through each day! Have a great weekend!
This is also more Valentine’s Day related, but is a great counting activity for any day. I’ve been trying to work on more numbers with Gracie, especially number recognition. This activity pairs counting, number recognition and a bit of patience (at least if you’re using candy and have to wait until the end!). First Gracie counted the number of small hearts on each large heart and paired it with the correct number. In the pictures below she has actually already paired the hearts up and the numbered hearts are underneath. After she paired them all up I had her place the candy hearts on each small heart and count them again. Finally after all that, we ate one…or two…or maybe just three. You can find the printable for this activity here.
And since I never said anything about these activities being sugar free, the next activity was one that involved graphing gummy bears. As you can see, my graph is pretty crude, but it really doesn’t have to be anything special to work! I had Gracie sort out a pile of gummy bears into the correct colored circle. Then we counted them up and colored the correct number of boxes on the graph. After it was complete we may have eaten one…or two…or maybe three gummy bears.
Last is one that is super easy to set up and keep them entertained for quite awhile. I can’t promise that this is mess free, but if you’re just using vinegar and baking soda you can count that towards cleaning your table and floor for the day! You could call this set up a sort of science lab. I got out some mason jars, bottles, bowls, a pipette and measuring spoons and filled some with baking soda and others with water and vinegar. The first time Gracie poured the vinegar and the baking soda together was great! It fizzed and bubbled right out of the jar and to her this was pretty much the best thing ever! Of course she wanted more and more vinegar and baking soda! You can talk about what happens with the vinegar and baking soda and compare this to what happens with only baking soda and water. I kept it simple with these three ingredients, but you could also set up other science labs with different oils. I first got the idea from this post. Lillie even got in on the fun and tried to mix and pour a bit, and maybe taste just once and decide she didn’t want to do that again!
I hope this helps keeps your little ones busy like it did mine. And again, your welcome. I know that I’ve now saved you countless minutes on Pinterest that you can never get back! Oh and thank you for justifying my Pinterest searching! If you decide you still need your Pinterest fix, you can check out my boards here for more ideas. Also, you may notice that in about every single picture my children are in jammies, naked, or princess attire. This is how we spend about 90% of our time while at home these days. I do actually make them get dressed to go out in public…I promise!
A few months have gone by since my last gift list post. The gifts have been piling up. Some stacked neat and tidy in little piles of joy and laughter in easy to see and find kind of ways. Others scattered around under piles of paper and toys, dishes and laundry, sometimes hiding, but still always there.
There’s joy in the expected goodness and easy love, but also in the hard days and difficult choices. We wake up each morning and choose whether we will find joy. The joy and the gifts and God’s love is always there, it just depends if we choose to see it and accept those gifts.
Some days it’s just plain hard to see His gifts and count it all joy. Some days this mama comes to the end of the day wondering what all she has even accomplished. There was so much to do, yet what got done? But the joy doesn’t come from getting it all done. The joy isn’t there because you checked things off and got things accomplished. Even at the end of the day when there is a pile of dishes left in the sink and you’re too tired to do anything but plop down on the couch and turn your brain off for awhile, there is joy to be counted.
Joy in the mess of the day because that mess was made by two spunky little girls that you have the privilege of calling your daughters. Joy in the pile of dishes left after dinner cooked in your warm home and eaten together as a family. Joy in the relaxation at the end of the day and taking some time to recharge and unwind. Yes, sometimes you have to move that pile of junk mail or check under couch, but you’ll find it. The gifts are always there.
laughter/music/quiet slumber/pizza shared/solo walk/kids museum/Gracie singing, her little vice making up songs out of tune/little girl giggles/Lillie growls/simplified planner/little flower overalls/blue striped skirt/Pandora/handprints/chapter of John in the Bible/homemade granola bars/baking with Gracie/cuddling and snuggles while rocking with Lillie/Library books/Lillie napping on me in rocking chair/Gracie learning numbers through number hop/Gracie’s mismatched outfit and red sparkly shoes/being a SAHM/flowers from Dustin/taking time to blog/movies with Dustin/warm blanket/Lillie falling asleep with Uncle Isaac/getting vaccines/trekking through snow and puddles and finding the frozen yogurt place closed/Gracie getting ice cream for lunch/Lillie smiles after nap/laying down with Gracie to snuggle/Tuesdays at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s/snuggling Lillie before laying her down/time to relax/Gracie naked dancing/alone time/powersheets/Gracie interrupting reading her stories to ask questions every ten seconds/IHOP/fussy babes/quiet evening/sledding/spending time with cousins/lazy Saturdays/friend mama time/visit with Amish friends/memories of those gone to Heaven/chiropractor date/finished sewing Gracie’s jumper/time to clean/spinach muffins/goal setting/essential oils for cleaning/Jesus storybook Bible/Lillie climbing, growling and walking/singing happy birthday to Lillie in church/Lillie standing up on own/messy pasta face/snow play/slow cooker meals/baby sign language/Nick Amster basketball game/innocent joy and love/deep talks with Dustin/naked babies/ a found shoe/Gracie asked Jesus into her heart/google chats and plans for Africa/party prep/date with Dustin/party prep with Dustin/baking 30 some cupcakes six cupcakes at a time/more snow/children running/cupcakes/Gracie checking bunny’s reflexes/Lillie nodding yes when Dustin asked if she wanted to snuggle and then snuggling/rice play/good health/Gracie jumping in my arms and clinging around my neck/Lillie making funny noises while nursing/no mess water painting/Gracie snuggles/digize essential oil for tummies/Lillie helping pick up/rocking both girls and reading/Shake It Off dancing/Gracie tracing letters/Lillie putting legos together/movie night/Lillie’s cheesy grin and leaning head to shoulder, standing with hands clasped in utter cuteness/late night potty runs with Gracie/Gracie passing out valentine hearts at grocery store/Gracie telling me “I’ll always come back” as she plays a game and pretends to leave for awhile/Lillie’s toothy, cheesy grin/Lillie pointing to nose when asked and then proceeding to pick nose/dancing with Gracie and Lillie/Lillie sweeping/Lillie climbing on chairs/Lillie showing a love for the Brown Bear book/Gracie playing bop it games at Quin’s party/heart shaped food
…I told you they were piling up.
Happy Monday! So some of you readers may be experiencing warmer temps, but here in Ohio, we’re in for another cold week. While it did get into the 40s the other day (heat wave!) we’re probably not going to be frolicking outside in short sleeves anytime soon. That means we have to come up with lots of indoor activities. We also go to story time two days a week now so we can all keep our sanity and get out of the house!
|Reading some of the MANY library books we checked out this week|
Hopefully this sparked some ideas for you and your littles to enjoy this week. You can also visit my Pinterest board for more inspiration!
Mild contractions started on Jan 31st in the afternoon. They didn’t feel bad at all, but started out consistently right away at 3 to 4 min. I continued with my normal activities and took a walk. They were beginning to become a little stronger in the evening, but I still wasn’t sure that they were real contractions as they were very mild, but were already 3 min apart. I went to bed that night, hoping to get some sleep and see what happened. Sleep was not coming that night as the contractions continued every 3 min and lasted 15-30 sec. They were uncomfortable enough to keep me from sleeping, but not painful. That morning I decided to call the doctor, just to update and see if they thought it was labor or just practice contractions. They had me come in for observation. We arrived at the hospital around 10 am on Feb 1st. The nurses checked and I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced. They decided to admit me. I was a little skeptical as I felt it would still be awhile and it might have been nice to labor at home. But baby decided not to wait too long! Thing kept progressing and by noon I was 4 cm and 100% effaced. The contractions were becoming stronger, but I still felt that I was in control and could handle each one. I used the birthing ball throughout the afternoon and often hung onto Dustin through a contraction. Though the contractions were more painful, in between I could still interact with others.
My labor didn’t really seem to be going by the book, so I was also unsure what stage of labor I was in! Around four they checked and I was 7 cm. They filled up the tub and I got in. The water felt good at first, and then some nausea hit. I immediately vomited, but felt some relief afterwards. After 2-3 contractions in the water I started feeling like I could push. They came to check my progress and I was already at about 10 cm and baby was ready to come out! My water had never broken, but I was ready to push! They didn’t want me to push at first because the doctor wasn’t there. After about 15-20 min the doctor arrived and started coaching me through pushing. Between pushing I could still talk and was able to feel like I could rest briefly. After about 15 min of pushing, Dustin told me he could see her head. I asked if she had hair. The doctor told me if I could hold the pushes a little longer she would soon be out. Then and there I was determined that she was coming out! After about 10 more min of pushing the head was out and I delivered the water sac intact. The rest of her seemed to come easily and they lifted her out of the water and onto my chest. She was crying immediately and got 9 out of 10 on the APGAR. They said water babies usually don’t cry right away and therefore don’t get a 9. We were very proud of her first “grade”. I held onto our baby girl and they waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Dustin then cut the cord. After getting out of the tub I had to get some stitches due to some tearing. They took her away briefly to keep her warm as I got out of the water. After finishing the stitching they returned her to me so we could spend some time in skin to skin contact. It’s so amazing to think that our baby is finally here! Gracie Lynn Steiner came into this world on Feb 1st at 5:11 pm weighing 6 lbs 13 oz and 19.5 in. long.