Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Signing for Kids

Ok, I think that it's time for a new post. Have any of you moms done sign language with your young kids? What are some experiences that you have had-pros and cons of it. When do you recommend starting using Sign Language with them. I really am open to anything that anyone has heard about this.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

rhymes and songs for in the water and out! (Infant to schoolage!)

Being a swimming instructor for so many years, I have had the opportunity of teaching babies starting from six weeks old. Even if your area doesn't allow babies in the swimming pool (ahem Nancy) These are some little songs and poems that I have used in the pool and out!

"The Grand Old Duke of York"

The Grand Old Duke of York
He had Ten Thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill (lift baby up as high as you're comfortable)
And he marched them down again. (Lower baby)
And when they're up, they're up (Lift again)
And when they're down, they're down (lower)
And when they're only halfway up (in the middle)
They're neither up or down.

He marched them to the left
He marched them to the right
He marched them around and around and around (circles)
And he marched them out of sight (Hide your eyes, babies eyes, or if you're brave and in the water, go ahead and put them under. To do this safely with infants under two, count 1-2-3 do a sharp quick breath right in their face. This causes a reflex action in which they inhale and hold their breath. Then it is safe to dunk them (shallow dunk) under the water.)

"Rain" (a great bathtub rhyme)

Rain is falling down (trickle water from sponge or fingers onto baby)
SPLASH! (splash hand in water)
Rain is falling down
Pitter patter, pitter patter (lightly trickle)
Rain is falling down

"Ten Little Bubbles" (I use bubbles and a bubble blower for this in the tub, pool, or out! Each time bubble is mentioned, I blow bubbles with the bubble wand. Babies love this! To encourage bubble blowing in the pool, graduate to blowing right in the water - minus the bubble wand and bubbles!)

One little, Two little, Three little bubbles
Four little, Five little, Six little bubbles
Seven little, Eight little, Nine little bubbles
Ten little bubbles go SPLASH! SPLASH! SPLASH! (or pop, pop, pop)

"If you're Happy and you Know It" (We all know the song, I'll give you the actions I use in the water)

Splash your hands
Kick your Feet
Put one ear in the water
Put the other ear in the water
Blow some bubbles
Put your face in the water
Shout Hurray!
Wave To Daddy, Mommy, Grandma, Grandpa, whomever

My kids absolutely love this one, even now!

"We're going to Kentucky, (start turning a circle)
We're going to the fair (Turn the other way)
To see a Senorita with flowers in her hair
Oh Shake it baby shake it! (Wiggle gently while holding baby if little, or wiggle baby if bigger)
Shake it all you can
Rumba to the bottom (twist down)
Rumba to the top (twist back up)
Oh Rumba to the bottom
Rumba to the top
Rumba to the bottom until I holler STOP! (And cease all movement suddenly (I freeze and my kids would scream "again! again!" And away we'd go) )

"The Little Old Man"

A little old man flew up in space (lift child high)
And he got ice cream all over his face! (Look surprised and point to your face or theirs)
So wash him with a washcloth (pretend to wash face, or really do it if in tub)
Roll him in a rug (turn a circle or spin child in tub)
And tuck him in a towel, until he's Snug, Snug, Snug! (Hug tightly or really take them out of tub and wrap in a towel!)

I've got more songs and rhymes, including a great one to sing while getting dressed! If you're interested let me know!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How about Young Baby Activities?

So I've been reading some of the suggested ideas from the previous posts of games and activities to do with the older baby.  But, being a mother of a two month old, I feel his life is very routine, and only eat, sleep, and poop.  Are there any activities you can suggest for stimulating senses in such a young one? Not only for him, but also for me, so I can feel I'm doing more with him.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Any help with toilet training? I don't get it! My first two were way easier than this last one has been! I've tried everything from treats, charts, making him sit until he goes, bribes, discipline, cheerios in the bowl, underwear, pull-ups. My son will be 5 next in a week and a half and he will not use the toilet! I am desperate for any new tactics!!!! Thankyou!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

In Response to Bonnie's Friend's Question

Ooh--I'd love to hear all of the ideas that she gets. It's nearly impossible for me to keep Rachel busy all day, every day. She's such a busy, busy, baby!
  • We try to go outside at least once a day, weather permitting. We watch for birds (and other animals) or go on "feeling adventures" where we touch everything we can and discuss smooth and rough and prickly, etc.
  • We swing, we slide, we play with fire hydrants. Anything that entertains her pretty much. We just talk about what's going on.
  • I also try to do something musical with her. We play on the piano or we bang on "drums," which are usually tupperware containers, boxes, etc. I also have some little castanets that we gave her for Easter. She likes those but can't use them very well.
  • We play with blocks a lot. We practice putting the blocks "in" things and "on" things.
  • I also will sing songs about the letters on the blocks--E says EE and E says Eh. Every letter makes a sound and E says EE and Eh.
  • Or R is for Rachel, that's good enough for me. R is for Rachel, that's good enough for me. R is for Rachel, that's good enough for me, oh Rachel, Rachel, Rachel starts with R!
  • I will find a block with a picture on it and then find the matching letter and show her: Airplane starts with A! She's so cute! She's started to hold two blocks beside each other and show me them, thinking she's doing the same thing I'm doing. She's not, but that's okay.
  • We sort the blocks by colors or write things with the letters: her name, simple words, etc.
  • I build towers and she knocks them down. We make lines and trains and castles with them. We balance them on our heads...
These are really disjointed ideas. Sorry. I'm tired...but I'm kind of on a roll so I'm going to continue.
  • I have a little tin can (with a plastic lid--no sharp edges). We cut a slit out of the lid and we use juice can lids for "coins." We practice putting those "in." They're fun for "music time," too.
  • Rachel loves bubbles. I blow, she tries to eat them right out of the air.
  • We play "cat and mouse." I crawl around on the floor and Rachel follows me around. Or I'll chase her saying, "I'm going to get you!" or "Roar!"
  • We sing songs. A lot of songs. We have a pig puppet and a cow puppet and we sing "Old MacDonald had a farm" using those animals first...and then we go through all of her stuffed animals. I don't know what an ewok says...so we skip that one.
  • We do a lot of finger games...you can find a ton online.
  • I have her follow me around the house while I clean up. It slows things down but gives us plenty to talk about. She loves helping with the laundry. "Who's shirt is this? It's mommy's shirt! What color is it?"
  • Sometimes we go on to Starfell or some other kid friendly site and I let her play around.
  • We read stories everyday and talk about the pictures
  • We bang on pots and pans
  • Peek a boo is a huge favorite.
  • When I'm really desperate we just take a bath or shower
  • We have a glass-top table that we play through. I'm usually looking down at her while she sits underneath it. I'll put my finger on the table and she'll put hers on the same spot underneath. And then I move my finger and she'll move hers. We also kiss each other through the glass. She thinks that's hilarious.
  • Mirrors are a lot of fun. We point to each other and ask where mommy and baby are. The other day Andrew put a sticker on her forehead and she spent a good 10 minutes at the mirror trying to get it off of the "other" baby--her reflection. So funny!
  • We take pictures just for fun. She loves the camera.
  • We look out the window and point to things we can see...
  • We people watch. She loves to watch big kids play--big for her is anything older than herself.
  • We have magnets on our front door and fridge. She likes to pull those off and then I put them back on. We haven't done a lot of experimenting with this, but she has taken them off the door and stuck them to the metal frame of her stroller, so I see some potential.
  • We've tried coloring but she's more interested in eating the crayons than coloring at this point
  • We often just categorize all of our toys by color, making piles of green toys, pink toys, etc.
  • She loves balls. We roll them all around the house. She chases after them and goes nuts.
  • I really want to start going to story time weekly...they do new finger plays there and Rachel loves to be surrounded by books and children. If only the weather would stay nice and warm...
  • We practice "being soft" with her stuffed animals and pictures in books. I help her stroke them gently and prompt her to "be nice."
  • We watch the clothes spin around in the washing machine
  • She loves to look at pictures and movies of herself. We talk about her and other little babies. She loves babies.
Pretty much anything that we can explore, we do. We talk about every aspect of everything. I have these cute puzzles that she's way too young for, but we sing songs about them...there are a ton of songs you can sing with minimal props. We have a farm puzzle and we sing Old Mac Donald and This little piggy and Baa Baa Blacksheep and any other song that has to do with any animal in the farm picture.

Anyway, I think I'm going to go to bed. I'm exhausted. I hope that's something along the lines of what she's looking for--and if she gets any good ideas, let me know! I'm running out of ideas myself. It isn't so much that Rachel gets bored with things...It's that I get bored of things.

I really want to get more organized though, because I think that Rachel's personality will demand much more structured entertainment in the future...so any and all ideas are welcome.

My friend's question

I have a friend who posted this on her blog:

I have a question for all of you out there. Aspyn is now at the age where she is a lot of fun. She is starting to figure things out and wants to discover things. So, here is the question. Do any of you have some fun and creative activities for infants/toddlers? I have decided to spend about an hour each day doing something different with her that involves learning. I have made some things for her but I was wondering if anyone could give me any more ideas. So, if you do leave a comment for me. Thanks!!

Aspyn is 10 months old. I was wondering if any of you have some interesting things to say that I could add as comments to her blog. Thanks!

April Menu

Here's my April menu:

Tuesdays (Beef):
1 - Abby makes dinner. (This is Jack's mom. She makes dinners for us in return for me watching Jack. I love it! Thanks Abby!)
8 - Southwest Tamale Pie
15 - Mostaccioli Beef Casserole
22 - Beef Stuffed Crescents
29 - Ground Beef Noodle Bake

Wednesdays (Mexican):
2 - Tortilla Scramble with Salsa
9 - Chili-Chicken Enchiladas
16 - Breakfast Nachos
23 - Arroz con Pollo
30 - Black and White Mexican Bean Soup

Thursdays (Random. I planned Thursdays last this time and this is what we got.):
3 - Smoked Sausage with Penne and Veggies
10 - Leftovers (or something)- Book Club is at our house that night so I will be too busy cleaning and getting treats ready to cook dinner.
17 - Chicken a la king - This is really reserved for some random night where whatever is planned doesn't happen. I just stuck it here. Let's be honest, I'm am quite flexible in this schedule.
24 - Something that somehow doesn't get made during the month. This always happens. Especially with Abby bringing meals.

Fridays (Chicken, Chicken, Chicken):
4 - Chicken Pasta Toss and Carrot Coins with Thyme
11 - Chicken Tortilla Bake
18 - Chicken Potpie (with a premade crust. I tried making the crust once and didn't enjoy the experience.)
25 - Chicken over curly noodles and garlic-cheese crescent rolls

Saturdays (Mostly this became prepared doughs night. The Simple and Delicious Magazine I got this month had a recipes-with-prepared-doughs contest. We love biscuits and crescent rolls, etc. so we are excited.):
5 - Fast food. (We are heading to my parents' house between afternoon session and Priesthood session of General Conference and will not have time for such silly things as home cooked meals.
12 - Spicey Chicken Bundles
19 - Pizza Loaf
26 - Ham and Cheese Loaf

Sundays (Minimal work night):
6 - Eat at my parents'
13 - Beef and three-bean chili
20 - Meal from Abby
27 - Meal from Abby

Mondays (Quick cooking night):
7 - Hot dog bean soup
14 - Breakfast pizza
21 - white chili
28 - Something we haven't done yet.

Wow that minimal work night followed by quick cooking night sure makes me sound lazy. Well, I'm honest, anyway. This month's recipes were primarily from Simple and Delicious for March and April 2008 and a new cool Mexican cookbook I found at Macey's (see Wednesdays' dinners.) Now I just have to get to the grocery store.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Month of Menus

Well, having been inspired by Nancy, I finally bit the bullet and made my first monthly menu. It took longer than expected, but having it done has given me some glorious, much-needed peace of mind. Meal time around our house has been going downhill steadily for the past few months. I was in a "need to run to the store to grab a few things for dinner tonight" cycle that would happen a couple of times a week. I mean, I like Target, but not enough to spend half my waking hours there. And, dinner time was slowly moving later and later, sometimes as late at 8pm. I'm almost ashamed to reveal that little secret here to all of you supermoms, but I rationalize that we're just being really cool and eating like the Europeans. I have made it my goal to have dinner on the table at 6pm every night. It's a lofty goal, and one that will take some planning, but hopefully will be made easier by the following.

Thanks Nancy for the example and encouragement.

Sundays - Crock pot dinners
6 - Crockpot Lentil Soup
13 - BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
20 - Pot Roast
27 - BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Mondays - Mexican Night
7 - Cream Cheese Enchiladas
14 - Chicken Quesadillas
21 - Burritos
28 - Haystacks/Frito Chili Pie

Tuesdays - Pasta Night
1 - Ravioli Bake (thanks to whoever posted that recipe - I tried it and it was super easy and delicious!!!!)
8 - Old World Manicotti
15 - One Skillet Spaghetti
22 - Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
29 - Lasagna

Wednesdays - Breakfast for Dinner
2 - Eggs in a basket/Bacon/Cinnamon Rolls
9 - Egg Pancake/Hashbrowns
16 - Crepes/Scrambled Eggs
23 - Eggs for a crowd/Muffins
30 - Buttermilk Pancakes/Yogurt

Thursdays - Casseroles
3 - Tuna Noodle Casserole
10 - Potluck Chicken Casserole
17 - Broccoli Rice Casserole
24 - Meatball Subs

Fridays - Pizza
4 - DiGiorno Cheese Stuffed Crust
11 - Homemade Pizza
18 - Nacho Pizza
25 - Veggie Pizza

Saturdays - MYOLO (I love this! Both the acronym and the concept. A night off - Woo hoo!!!)

One Skillet Spaghetti - my husband and daughters gobble this meal up
Yield: 7 servings

-1 lb. hamburger
-2 med. onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
-1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes (I prefer to use smaller tomatoes, such as diced)
-3/4 c. chopped green pepper
-1/2 c. water
-1 can (4 oz.) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
-2 t. salt
-1 t. sugar
-1 t. chili powder
-7 oz. uncooked thin spaghetti, broken into pieces
-1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese, about 4 oz.

Cook and stir hamburger and onions in 10-inch skillet or Dutch oven until hamburger is light brown; drain. Stir in tomatoes (with liquid), green pepper, water, mushrooms, salt, sugar, chili powder and spaghetti; break up tomatoes with fork. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until spaghetti is tender, about 30 minutes. (Add water during cooking if necessary) Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and heat until cheese is melted.

Bon Appetit!