Monday, October 29, 2012

Fun Activities with a 13-Month-Old

As fortunate as I am to be able to spend all of this time with Nathan at home, I definitely need help keeping the little guy entertained. I have been trying to come up with various ways to keep the little guy entertained and hopefully help him learn to explore more on his own. Here are a few activities to keep a young toddler entertained.

Put in/Take Out
Around the one-year mark (or earlier) kids begin to take an interest in placing things inside a container and removing them from it again. Whether it be a random shoe box  a toy bin, or a cabinet; it can be great fun for a little one to practice putting stuff in and out of it. Another good thing about this is that it can evolve into teaching your children to clean up after themselves. Make a game out of tossing toys into the toy bin (or whatever) and encourage your toddler to do the same.

Toddler Cabinet
So I'm not the most creative activity/object namer. But basically, if you have a spare cabinet, you can fill it with toddler-friendly objects and allow your child to play around in it while you do other things. Sometimes this can help give you a chance to prepare a meal, if your cabinet is off to the side in the kitchen. Since toddlers go through stages of separation anxiety, keeping you nearby/in site can help them stay comfortable and mildly independent.

Mystery Basket
This is less of an activity and more of a surprise assortment of items your toddler may not always get to play with. It can range from various tupperware containers to mismatched socks to blocks. Anything that he or she can safely play with. The idea behind this is to give the child something they don't often interact with. This can give them a distraction for you to be able to get some work done or take a few minutes for yourself.

A Walk Around the Block
If your toddler has started walking then this can be a great time to help him practice on rougher terrain. It always keeps Nathan's attention to see the different surroundings, and I love that he holds my hand while we walk! Try not to be too ambitious the first few times - even a walk to the mail box and back can be a big adventure and take some time. If the little guy or girl isn't yet walking, or is tired, a walk with the stroller is also nice. This time of year with the leaves fluttering about will be the visual stimulus needed to provide for a nice distraction as well. I like to narrate what we see, even if Nathan seems more interested in trying to grab his toes from around the stroller tray.

Finger Painting
While you can buy non-toxic finger paints and do your best to prevent ingestion, if your child is like mine then every chance they get they will try to eat that stuff. So I recommend using jello, or pudding, or even jam to "finger paint" with. Anything colorful they can smear across their high chair tray. It could be even more fun and easier to clean up if you have finger painting time in the bath tub! Start them off already naked and you don't even need to worry about laundry!

Stack up and Knock Down
This game has so far been mostly me stacking up and Nathan knocking down - but it is still fun! Especially since I've begun to teach Nathan what "Wait" means and he will barely be able to hold back (but will still wait) while I try to race and stack the blocks up as high as they will go. He gets so excited to finally be able to knock them down. Hilarious!

Singing and Dancing
Who am I kidding? This isn't just for toddlers, this is for everyone.

Peek-a-boo/Hide and Seek
We've upgraded our old peek-a-boo game into more of a hide and seek thing. Nathan loves it! Never tires of it. Just go off and hide some where easy, and if they still can't find you just keep calling to them and peeking out. Once Nathan finds me I jump out and he squeals with excitement. That never gets old! I love it.

I know there are a bunch of other activities out there. What are some of your favorite ways to have fun with your little (or not so little) one?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Aloha Friday 10/26/12

I'm still missing my kitty Kai (here's the post) and could use some happy stories this week.

So my question is:

What is something you are excited for?

My husband and I have put our social life on hold quite a bit this past year, but we have had a number of fantastically happy days. Of course, love spending time together, seeing Nathan discover new things and grow up in front of me. Other than the obvious fact that I'm psyched to see the next thing that Nathan learns and to hear the next word he learns, I am especially excited for something else. This December, my husband and I are going to our first concert in over a year! The first real concert since before I got pregnant, which will have been over 2 years. We used to go to several concerts each year, so this is exciting and a first step in getting the "us" part of our family back again. Of course I wouldn't trade my new life for anything, but from time to time it's great to get back to your carefree moments temporarily.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Sweet Kitty Kai

Three and a half years ago, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I adopted two amazing little kittens. We knew right away that they were the ones for us when they practically jumped into our arms upon meeting.

Kai (with Jason) when we first adopted him.

Kai was even more forceful with his love; he would literally knock his head against your chin until you petted him enough. He was the first lap kitty I have ever met. Sure, kitties will sometimes visit to be scratched behind the ears for a short time, but Kai would stay and cuddle up and fall asleep. At night he would come in and lay across my neck, like a little kitty scarf. If you so much as glanced at him, he would begin purring.

He loved his brother - they would often clean each other and fall asleep together.

Kai and Kabuki from a couple years ago.

Last August we learned that Kai had a rare and severe form of heart disease. Even though I knew he was dying, on some level I always thought he would make it through.

In the recent weeks he had stopped doing most things. He would barely eat, never played around, and mostly stayed in a quiet place away from everybody. He used to constantly jump up onto my lap when I was rocking Nathan to sleep, but that had stopped. Kabuki (his brother) started avoiding him for the most part. He had to be assist-fed for a while.

A couple days ago Kabuki started spending tons of time with Kai. I would always find them together. Kai suddenly had a huge appetite and was constantly drinking water. Kai was always seeking us out to visit. He would jump into our laps and just purr - full force rather than the weak half purring he had been doing. Last night he visited us at bedtime and laid across my neck like the old times - the first time in a very long time.

Kabuki keeping Kai company yesterday

Last night Kai came into Nathan's room as I was setting Nathan back into his crib. He came to be with us in his last moments. Jason and I comforted him as he passed away.

Kai, you were the most loving kitty. Rest in peace little buddy, we will miss you.

Kai April 2009 - October 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mommy Confessions

Came across this post at The Stir today, and LOVED IT. Checked out immediately and suddenly I feel a lot better about myself as a mom. Sure, I typically try to research things I know little about, and try and keep Nathan well taken care of and everything. But sometimes I just don't feel like I am keeping up. At my old job I had learned so much and actually felt like I knew what I was doing the majority of the time. That hasn't been the case since Nathan was born!

But, keeping up with the theme of confessions, here are a couple of my own:

~I let Nathan chase after our (healthy) kitty all he wants - until the kitty starts swiping at him. One of them will learn! Nathan shouldn't chase kitties because they scratch and kitty should hide from Nathan because he grabs.

~I am most excited for Nathan to have teeth and be able to chew food because I no longer have to blend anything up. I can just chop up some stuff and he feeds himself! It's great!

So what are your mommy confessions?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Aloha Friday 10/12/12

Happy Aloha Friday everyone!

I know the holidays are on their way and that tends to mean lots of delicious foods are headed in our direction.

This week's question is:

How do you avoid gaining weight during the holiday season (if you avoid it at all!)?

I used to not worry too much about it. I would gain a couple of pounds without realizing it, or if I did notice I would consider it insulation. Gotta keep warm in the cold Winter months, right? This year I will be balancing it out with low-carb weeks each month. The plan is to have one low-carb week each month, unless we gain a certain amount of weight. Then we will do more! We are also going to exercise more, to try and head off the extra carbohydrates that shall be consumed.

How about you?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review: LeachCo Prop 'R Shopper Cart Cover

Today I am reviewing the LeachCo Cart Cover. I actually bought this a long time ago - nearly a year. I was excited when I saw this because it just looks comfortable. Carts never do, all metal or at least hard plastic, cold, typically wet from rain. Blegh. Not only does this have big cushions on both sides, but there's a pocket on the back flap (not visible in this picture), two toy holders on the front, a little seat belt to keep the baby inside, and a cover for the cart handle! 
Convenience: This product is made of machine-washable fabric (just remove the pillows and toss in the washing machine!) When not in use, you can roll it up and it closes with velcro and the seatbelt becomes a handle. The toy tethers are a huge help - especially once children figure out they can throw things. Since babies seem to love chewing on the nasty cart handle, this covers it right up so you won't have to make a mad dash for the sanitizing wipes. 

Quality: Over the past year, this thing has gotten a lot of use. It has held together completely, and there is no visible wearing on it thus far. This is durable and works for most carts. The only exceptions I've come across are the new giant plastic target carts. I can even fit it into (one side) of the Costco carts. 

Cost: Compared to other cart covers, the LeachCo seems to be in the middle range of cost. Right now, you can buy one at BabiesRUs for $40 - the cheapest other brand costs $20 and the most expensive is $68. At the LeachCo cover is $29.99, the cheapest other brand is $17 and the most expensive is $90. 

The only supposed downside I've found to this is that since it is so shaped to carts in particular, it doesn't double as a cushion for restaurant high chairs. This is a feature of some other types of cart covers. But really, I don't think Nathan could fit in restaurant high chairs with a cushion crammed in there too. In addition, to be able to fit things that are as differently shaped as a cart and a high chair, it would have to sacrifice a bit of quality. No loss to us!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Aloha Friday 10/5/12

Happy Aloha Friday everyone!

Hard to believe it's already a few days into October!

This week I'm wondering...
What is a funny thing that happened in your childhood?

Apparently, when I was quite young I couldn't pronounce my first name, Jessica. To me, it sounded like "Kaka", so when people asked my name, that's what I responded with. They laughed, and of course kids love to make people laugh, so I continued to say that for who knows how long.

More Aloha Fridays Here!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to decide when to wean.

If you are planning to, or are already breastfeeding your child, this thought has likely crossed your mind. Here is what you should consider when determining at which point to wean your child. You want to first consider why you would wean your child.

Is your reason because of lack of health benefits at a certain age? If so, you should know that breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as breastfeeding continues. 

How old is your child? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. WHO recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the six months, and then past that with complementary foods up to two years and beyond. Toddlers will continue to benefit from breastfeeding past two years, so don't think of that as a cut off point if you don't want it to be. 

Will you be returning to work? Pumping can help you maintain your supply and feed the baby while you are gone. It can be considered a hassle to pump at work. Especially once your baby has passed the one-year mark and you can start giving whole cow's milk or others instead of formula. You could introduce cow's milk at this age, and still breastfeed when you are home with the little one, if you like. 

In your community/family/friends, at which point did they wean their child? I am not suggesting you base your parenting decisions off some one else's - even someone you care deeply about. However, this is something you will deal with as people constantly compare themselves to others. People who mean well but do not know better may suggest that it is time to wean. Some think that once a child can ask to nurse, they are too old to continue to do so. Frankly, breastfeeding is between you and your child, anyone else you include should be supportive. 

The most important concern, to me, is how you both feel about continued breastfeeding. I think mothers should try to at least hit the six month mark, and hopefully up to a year. However, I understand that sometimes this isn't the right fit. Whatever works best for your family and your life - when you decide to wean should fit into that perfectly. 

Wordless Wednesday 10/3/12