DIY: Fizzy Play for Toddlers

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Toddlers have an insatiable curiosity about the world.  This one does anyway.  She wants to open every drawer and cupboard to see what’s inside, eat every dust bunny to see what it tastes like, climb every surface to see what it’s like to be on top.  That’s why no matter how many toys she has, she will always be bored with them.  Right now she prefers activities that allow her to explore something new.   It’s not hard to do since almost everything is new to you if you’re 14 months old.  Just this morning I gave her a potato masher and that occupied her long enough for me to heat up her breakfast.

Sometimes though, just handing her a random kitchen utensil doesn’t quite do it.  That’s when you gotta get a little more creative.  Pinterest is an awesome resource when you just can’t think of something to do.  I had been wanting to do some exploration with R using baking soda and vinegar and saw many different ways to do this on different blogs.  Because I love easy clean up I decided to meld a few different approaches into one.  It was super easy to set up/clean up and kept R entertained for a good 10 minutes solo.

Here are the materials you need to set it up for yourself:

  • a sheet or towel to cover the floor
  • a big shallow tub to catch spills (there WILL be spills)
  • a few paper/plastic cups
  • Crayola color bath dropz
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • a spoon
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The essentials

*Most of these items you’ll find you already have, the only thing you may need to buy are the bath dropz.  I chose to use these because most other tutorials used food coloring which stains fingers for a while.  Since these bath dropz are intended for colored bath water, they only discolor fingers for a little while and wash clear quickly.  I told you, I hate messes.

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All you need to do for this activity is pour vinegar into paper cups and add a bath drop into each cup to change its color.  Then show your little one how to spoon vinegar into each cup to make it fizz different colors.  They’ll be engaged in the spooning for a while.  For us, it eventually turned into tipping all the cups over and making a rainbow water trough, but that’s fun too.

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This activity is great for the developing thinking and fine motor skills.  It helps them learn about cause and effect (fizzing action and color mixing), and helps their little fingers and hands master that pesky skill of spooning small things into containers (great practice for self feeding).  If you wanted to work on pincer grasp you could reverse the process by giving them a dropper of vinegar to add to cups filled with baking soda. So many different ways you can approach this super simple activity.  Get creative, and go find out what works for you!

More Blueberries, Please

Ever since Little Lady was born it’s been a challenge to feed her.  Whether from breast, bottle, spoon or fork, this has been our major struggle.  She is many wonderful things, but “good eater” is not one of them.  Because she’s inherited my lovely chubby cheeks, people think she’s just fine, but I completely disagree.

On the week that she turned 1, Little Lady realized that she was in control.  Gone were the days of mommy shoving a bottle into her mouth to try and get to that magic 16 ounce minimum of formula.  Gone were the days of tricking her into opening her mouth for an extra spoonful of oatmeal.  She could shake her head ‘no’ and purse her lips shut.  She decided that she didn’t want to drink anything for a week and there was nothing I could do to change her mind.

Since that week, it has been an on again off again struggle to get her to eat/drink what I’ve read to be the recommended amount of calories per day for a one year old.  In case you’re wondering, that number is 900.  I’m pretty sure Little Lady maxes out at 500.  But maybe I’m underestimating. You be the judge. Take a look at what she typically eats for breakfast, morning snack, and lunch.

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She pretty much just ate blueberries for the first 6 hours of her day.  Sigh…

Now here’s lunch:

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Now, I’ve read a few things stating that forcing a child to finish their food causes eating issues down the line.  So what’s a mama to do?  No, seriously…I have no idea.  I’m pretty much letting her dictate when she’s done eating, but that is not coinciding with the whole recommended calories thing.  Should I trust that she knows when she’s full? Or should I try to coax her into taking one more bite? For now, I’m just going to buy some more blueberries.

Coffee Klatch: Paramount Coffee Project

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We LOVE coffee.  The obsession started before our year in Seattle, but intensified while we were there for sure.  Now, whenever we hear of a good coffee spot in town we have to try it.  We actually revolve our weekend mornings around making it to one of these spots since most of them are a good car ride from home base.

To be honest, most of these are hipster coffee spots in Mid City or the Eastside, and they make it incredibly hard for you to bring your baby/toddler.  They don’t offer high chairs or changing tables, and they more often than not have super cramped and minimalist spaces that make it really uncomfortable for any squirmy kid you happen to bring.  But, seriously hipsters, that is NOT going to stop us.  No, not us, the coffee obsessed and sleep deprived parents of a toddler.  We shall bring our own booster chair and we shall change diapers in the trunk of our car–priorities, right?

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One of these Saturday mornings brought us to Paramount Coffee Project.  This place was everything a hipster coffee spot required: cool servers, cramped indoor space, cute outdoor patio, mason jar serving ware, retro furniture, and slow service.  We started by ordering our caffeine.  For me a filtered coffee and for him a flat white with an extra shot. *Notice the mason jar to hold my extra coffee.

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Luckily for us it wasn’t just bench seating and there was a chair for us to attach a booster.  Now, among the 20 something singles sipping their coffee and working on their laptops there would be a 1 year old flinging porridge onto the floor.

For breakfast we ordered 1. Banana Porridge 2. Frijoles y Queso and 3. Bubble and Squeak Hash with an egg.  All three were delicious.  Most hipster coffee spots do coffee well and food okay.  I’ll say that this coffee spot had good coffee and a killer breakfast! Obviously we ordered the porridge for R, but she wanted to eat our egg whites instead, so we feasted on her left overs.  Of all three dishes I’d say that the porridge was the star.  Shocking, I know, but the winter spices added to it were perfect.

So let’s say you have a baby and you just don’t feel like being that annoying family that doesn’t realize their time for places like this has passed.  Fear not, you can still enjoy PCP coffee and treats at the to go window.

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This place was definitely worth the trip over the hill.  Now it’s your turn.  Go get some coffee!

Paramount Coffee Project

456 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

Girlfriends Go Out: Augustine

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Making time for yourself is hard.  Making time for yourself as a stay at home mom to a newborn or toddler can seem impossible.  But if you have one REALLY great friend, you can totally make it happen.

The transition to new motherhood was not the easiest for me.  (Read all about my breastfeeding trauma here.) I let certain challenges really define my success as a new mom.  I found myself obsessed with being the perfect mom (whatever that meant), and dealt with baby blues without even knowing it.  My soul sister/partner in crime over at A Lovely State of Mind recognized when I needed a minute just to be me.  She’d come over and take me out for a walk around the block and just let me unload.  That was kind of the beginning of our once a week girlfriend dates.

These dates can be anything from coffee to pajama parties to bourgeois wine bars like Augustine.  Last week, that’s where wine night took us.  While the conversation may steer toward motherhood (usually my bad), just being out in the world as an individual can be rejuvenating.  Here’s a quick list of pros and cons for the small wine bar in Sherman Oaks.

Pros

  • romantic/cute ambience (like this needlepoint detail at the cute two person booth we sat in)
  • yummy wines
  • close to home
  • delicious cheese/meat plates and appetizers
  • friendly bartender who is willing to spend time helping you choose the right wine

Cons

  • older and slightly douchey crowd
  • pricey wines
  • attractive bartender that all the cougars want to flirt with, therefore making your wait to order wine or food a little long

All in all a really cute place to get a little dolled up and grab a good glass of wine with a girlfriend.

Augustine Wine Bar

13456 Ventura Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91423

 

Playtime: Zimmer Children’s Museum

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Zimmer Children’s Museum
6505 Wilshire Blvd., #100
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Some people are amazing aunts and uncles.  Even before they have their own children, they offer babysitting services, take your kids on fun outings, and give you a break (my sister and her husband are great examples).  We are not those people.  We were married 5 years before R came along, and in that time I can count on one hand how many times we babysat/took our nieces and nephew out for a day to give our siblings a break.  I know, we were big fat turds.  Big fat selfish turds to be exact.

Now that we’re parents we totally get how terrible we were.  Just one afternoon that R can spend with her Auntie and we can just be us is priceless. We decided it was time to change our ways and took one of our nieces out for a fun afternoon with R at the Zimmer.  (BTW-It is MUCH easier to manage a child when you are childless, so if you are not yet parents do that whole babysitting thing NOW!)

This place was perfect for both the 1 year old and 4 year old.  It is like a huge play space that is really centered around imaginative play.  Some of their favorite parts of the museum were the real life jet that they could pretend to fly, the water table games, the pretend grocery store, pretend home complete with fake fireplace, and the ball pit.  There was one room for itty babies to crawl around on gym mats and a snack room with tons of high chairs and a couple of vending machines.  We spent about 2 hours there and we had to convince the 4 year old to leave. It was definitely a fun time had by all, even the very exhausted adults.

A few tips for your trip to the Zimmer:

  • Take your wallet and phone with you and ditch the diaper bag in the snack room cubbies.  You’ll be chasing your child around and those bags are just too annoying to lug around.
  • The museum isn’t marked with a big sign you can see from the street, but is located in a Jewish foundation building on the north side of Wilshire Blvd.
  • There’s a free parking lot if you are visiting the museum.

Hope your trip to the Zimmer is as much fun as ours was!

 

 

 

Getting Fit the Lazy Way

 

IMG_4794Sweatpants are for lounging around the house and sneakers are for making you look sporty, not running outdoors.  Am I right? Is there such a thing as getting fit AND being lazy?  The hubs and I are attempting to prove that there is.  We’ve both put on, and kept on, a significant amount of weight since R came along (about 10-15 lbs each).

It’s been a long journey of just getting to this point for myself.  After gaining 45 lbs with the pregnancy, the first 30 lbs required a lot of exercise and careful eating (can anyone say Whole 30?).  I was super motivated to do it, but then I got to these last 15 lbs.  My motivation dwindled because I didn’t feel as huge, I just felt a little bigger.  I could hide my pooch with loose clothing, and I bought bigger jeans with REAL buttons.  This was just the new me–until I started seeing the number on the scale start to rise again.

We were so used to being exhausted from new parenthood, that as soon as baby went to bed at 7pm, we would get into our jammies, whip out the snacks and start bingeing on our favorite shows until 11pm.  That’s 4 hours of being couch potatoes. Nightly! After 6 months of this we started to feel kind of gross.

Here’s where the problem lies, we are both so lazy that neither of us wants to go to the gym or go on a real diet.  We made a plan that works for us, and we are committing to it for 30 days.  I’ll let you know next month if our Lazy Plan works.  I’ve detailed the rules below in case you’re interested in joining this little experiment.

Get Fit the Lazy Way

  • cut the lattes (drink plain coffee instead)
  • cut the snacks at night (no replacement for this one)
  • half your dinner and lunch portions (at this point it means eating a normal sized meal since we were overeating)
  • do this 30 day workout challenge by Melissa Bender (it’s free and doesn’t require any equipment)
  • weigh yourself once a week to motivate yourself

We are one week in and I’ve already lost 4 lbs.  I am pretty sure my weight fluctuates by 4 lbs on the daily, but I’m gonna take it! 3 more weeks to go!

Parenting Fail: Gel Window Clings

The teacher in me wants to decorate/celebrate every holiday with baby.  So when I found adorable Valentine’s day window gel clings (much like these) in the dollar section of Target, I had to get them.  I got two packs in fact.  Sure I saw the ages 3+ sign on the bottom of the package, but this mom was going to be watching her baby play with them with eagle eyes so I could disregard that label.  “Won’t it be so cute to see R playing with these gel clings? It’ll be a great way for her to practice her fine motor skills.  And, I can put them up high enough so she’ll have to stand up to get them!” (We all know how much she loves hanging around on her bum.)

And it was cute.  For a while…

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Especially that morning she woke up wearing heart pajamas.  For a split second, I thought, “Damn, what an awesome idea this was! She’s standing, she’s excited…She’s EATING THEM!?!” Well, not really, because I was watching her with an eagle eye–remember?

This is when she discovered the game, Let’s Pretend to Eat These So Mom Freaks Out. Here’s how you play: Baby gets up to grab a gel cling and then has to put it just far enough and slowly enough into her mouth that mom has a chance to grab them.  Then mom puts the gel clings higher so baby can’t reach them.  Finally, baby whines until mom moves them down again and the whole process repeats.  This game can bring joy to baby for hours if you have the stamina to play. Mom does not have the stamina to play.

“Where does the parenting fail come in?” you may be wondering at this point.  Well, it comes in a few days later when she wakes up and takes a gigantic poop after a night of really terrible sleep (like waking up every few hours crying kind of sleep).  I open her diaper to find something I think to be undigested bok choy.  I get a little freaked out and call Pop over.  Did she eat a succulent? Is this some kind of mutant poop? After a little more investigating, and rinsing, we find that her poop says “Hug me” and “Too Cute.” It is, in fact, not one, but TWO whole gel clings…

This is about the moment I feel like a failure.  When could this have happened? I try racking my brain to remember.  And then I do.  I’m washing dishes, “watching” her play with gel clings out of the corner of my eagle eye when I see her grab one and try to play our game.  I run over to take it from her but realize there’s actually nothing in her mouth.  “Hmmm…must have put it back on the window,” I think.  Wrong! So, so very wrong.

After a call to poison control and an email to Target, I find that I am lucky she didn’t choke on the clings (I mean she swallowed two at a time!) and that I’ll never know if the clings changing color from red/pink to green in her tummy was toxic or not (I’m guessing so).  Target never got back to me about that question, and poison control was mostly concerned with the asphyxiation potential and her behavior which was totally normal.

So I’m here to tell you, please mind the age labels.  Unless of course, you’re an actual eagle with eagle eyes.

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