Activity: Tissue Paper Art

I am pleased to announce that I have teamed up with The Quirky Mommas and will be a weekly contributor to their Kids Activities Blog.  My posts will be published on Tuesdays at 5:00pm (eastern).

My first post was published yesterday.  Yay!  It wasn’t a glamorous activity, but it was something that my son and I were able to do with little preparation, little clean up, and materials we already had in the house.  We made Valentine’s Day hearts for both grandmothers out of construction paper and balled up tissue paper.

To see my little guy at work and find out exactly what we did, please check out this link:


For more QuirkyMomma ideas, check out:


Twitter:!/QuirkyMommaSite or @QuirkyMommaSite


Check back next Tuesday for my latest activity post!


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Activity: “Eggcellent” Adventurest

Activity: Sink or Float – An Experiment with Seltzer Water

My Body, Myself

My body made a baby, two actually.  I still marvel at that.  Considering that I cannot assemble a piece of IKEA furniture without assistance, I can’t quite figure out how I did it.  My body just knew.  It knew how to differentiate a brain cell from a bone cell.  It knew when it was time to make a liver and that there were supposed to be two lungs.  It made eyes see and a heart beat.  It made boy parts once and girl parts once.  It put toes on feet and fingers on hands.  It created life.

And now, my body is different.  I’m much lumpier than I ever was.  I have stretch marks, cellulite, flab, and two large scars.  My hair is shedding like crazy.  I sweat profusely in places I didn’t know could sweat.  I don’t get to shower that often, so I often smell like breast milk and baby spit up.  My boobs are enormous (more so than usual).  I don’t often wear makeup anymore and black circles are permanently under my eyes.  My skin is dry and I am often dehydrated.  My clothes don’t fit right – I can’t fit into my pre-baby clothes, and my maternity clothes are too big.  I may never fit into my skinny jeans again.

My body may be different, but my husband still thinks I’m pretty.  He watched my figure change day by day when I was carrying his children.  He knows what my body is capable of, and despite the changes (or perhaps because of them), he still wants to be near me.

My body may be different, but my children still snuggle up as close to me as possible.  They don’t mind the stink.  They were safe, secure, and loved inside my belly.  Now, they are safe, secure, and loved in my arms.

My body made a baby, two actually.  I still marvel at that.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

The phrase “Reach Out and Touch Someone” from a Bell System phone commercial of many years ago has been stuck in my head recently.  Over the last two weeks, it has become my mantra.  I was feeling disconnected from my toddler son and didn’t know how to remedy it.

My son and I were attached… very attached.  As a baby, he never liked to be put down.  I used to wear him all the time, nurse him on demand, sleep with him on my lap or snuggled next to me, and even sit next to him in the back seat of the car when someone else was driving.  As he got older and more independent, he wanted to walk on his own rather than be carried.  He was nursing less frequently.  Soon before my baby girl arrived, we installed her carseat in the back which eliminated my spot.  Now that my baby girl is here, she and I have started sleeping in a different room to avoid having the kids wake each other up.  My son and I have lost a lot of our physical (and, as a result, some emotional) connection.  I think both of us started feeling the effects of this separation.

My baby girl is now being worn all the time, nursing on demand, and sleeping snuggled next to me.  Occasionally, I have to squeeze into the back seat of the car to sit next to her if she really needs me to.  My son is off playing and doing things toddler boys do.  He is growing so fast, getting so big, and becoming more independent each day.  But he still needs his mama, and his mama still needs him.  My biggest question became how do I reconnect with my son?

I recently went to a free program in my town for little ones and their caregivers.  I ran into a friend who is a very like-minded parent.  I watched as she wore and cared for her baby boy and still maintained a strong connection to her toddler.  He would wander off and go investigate a new toy or book, but would come back periodically for a “recharge.”  His mother would squeeze him tight and give him a kiss and then he would happily wander off again.  I had a feeling that she was on to something.  This simply might be what my son and I needed.  Just as we plug in our phones to recharge the battery when it starts getting low, we needed to plug in to each other to recharge our physical and emotional batteries.

When we left the program, I talked to my son about “recharging.”  I explained to him that sometimes Mama needed an extra hug or kiss and sometimes he might need one.  Recharges are non-negotiable.  If someone needs a recharge, everything else stops and we wrap our arms around each other and squeeze until we have enough power to last us a while.  I wasn’t sure how he’d respond to this concept.  In the beginning, I initiated almost all of our recharges, but he happily complied.  During the past week, he has been asking for more and more, and has even recharged with others including his father and grandmother.  Overall, he seems happier, is feeling more connected and loved, and is reminded that we are here for him whenever he needs us.

Having noticed a difference in his demeanor and behavior, I have made a conscious effort to be a lot more affectionate towards him.  We wrestle, have tickle fights, and blow raspberries on our tummies.  If we’re sitting near each other, I try to physically connect to him somehow – either inviting him to sit on my lap, putting my arm around him, or just placing my hand on his knee.  I can’t always get him to hold my hand while walking, but I certainly do try.

I have reached out and touched someone… a very important someone.  A hug, a kiss, a squeeze, and/or a loving touch have made a world of difference in our lives.  We have been revitalized.  We have been reconnected.  We have been recharged.

Sleep deprivation much?

It’s midnight.  I just got my daughter back to sleep, came back downstairs to enjoy some “me time,” put the breast pump back into position, wiggled my computer mouse and wondered why the pump didn’t start, then pressed play on the cable remote (tv is off, mind you) and wondered why the pump didn’t start.  Perhaps it’s time to call it a night?

Children Will Listen (Sometimes Too Well)

As much as we think our children aren’t paying attention or blatantly disregard what we say, our words still affect them tremendously, both positively and negatively.   When our words have a negative impact on our kids (whether or not we intended them to), the challenging part becomes undoing the damage we have done.  In my case, I’m not talking about anything all that serious; I’m talking about some simple things we may say to keep our children safe and happy.  For example, we tell our kids not to touch electrical outlets because they are dangerous.  Yes, we want them to steer clear of these, but our intention is not to instill a lifelong fear of all things electrical.

I, it would seem, have accidentally created anxieties in my son that do not need to exist.  I can certainly understand the typical toddler fears of the dark, monsters, being alone, etc.  However, my son will no longer play with a battery-operated toy for fear that it will run out of batteries.  There will be plenty of other things he’ll have to talk to his therapist about one day – this one doesn’t seem necessary.

So, here’s what happened.  We have a train table and a few trains up in my son’s room.  One day, hubby and I surprised him with a battery-operated Thomas train.  He was thrilled.  He would turn Thomas on, play with him for a while, and then move on to something else.  Thomas was left to go around and around and around the track.  I simply reminded him to turn Thomas off so that he wouldn’t run out of batteries and he would be ready to go next time.  The following day, the same thing happened, but this time, Thomas was placed on the floor and went from my son’s room, down the hall, and into my bedroom.  My son watched in delight, and then again, moved on to the next toy.  Thomas put up a good fight pushing against the wall, but was unable to continue his journey.  Once again, I reminded my son that if he was  done playing with Thomas, he should turn it off and return it to the train table so that it won’t get lost or, you guessed it, run out of batteries.

A few weeks later, my son was given a gift of a battery-operated James train – something that he really, I mean really wanted.  James has been carried from room to room, has traveled with us on car rides to Grandma’s house, and has been pushed around the track.  Battery-operated James has never been turned on.  I have tried to make it exciting, suggesting we have races between James and Thomas around the track, but every time my finger goes near the power button, my son freaks out!  He gets so nervous that if we turn James on he will run out of batteries that he won’t turn James on at all!  I have tried to explain to him that it isn’t a big deal if a toy runs out of batteries, as we have several extras in our closet, and that if we DO run out, we can always go to the store for more.  I have tried to explain that we only have to turn our toys off when we are done playing with them.  But, alas, James remains a manually operated toy.

I have since noticed that my son also gets nervous about food melting, a result of a previous ice cream incident.  Additionally, he is concerned about getting messy, a result of a non-fingerpainting project that turned into a fingerpainting project and required a much bigger cleanup than anticipated.  I have tried to reassure him that not every food is going to melt and that it’s ok to get messy (I even encourage it).  Unfortunately though, it seems the damage has already been done.  The anxieties have already been created.  Mommy has already messed up and broken the baby.

I am not sure how to go about undoing the damage I have (without realizing it at the time) done.  Until I figure it out, these words from Sondheim’s Into the Woods will continue to haunt me:

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say “Listen to me”
Children will listen

My son listened… a little too well.

Biting bites!

A friend recently asked me how to deal with nursing a teething baby.  I’ve been through it once so far and anticipate going through it again within the next few months.  Biting hurts, but it hurts even more when it’s on your boob.  It’s hard to get the point across to a baby who doesn’t even really understand language yet that biting is not acceptable.  It’s hard not to yell or react physically.  It’s hard to continue nursing knowing that it could happen again at any moment.  It’s hard, but using simple and consistent words, not raising your voice or startling your child, and staying relaxed are all important to maintaining a healthy and stress-free nursing relationship.

I know a few mamas who have scared their children by having a big, loud reaction to the bite.  It’s painful and surprising, so who wouldn’t automatically react that way.  However, this type of reaction has the potential to damage a nursing relationship or trigger a nursing strike.

I’m certainly no expert.  I’m just a mama who has nursed… a lot.  One quick trick might be to have your child chew on a cold teething toy or washcloth before your nursing session to help numb the gums a bit.  My best recommendation for anyone in this situation is to immediately unlatch your child, be calm but firm, and tell him/her in simple words that biting means no milk.  Cover up your breast and say something like “Ouch, biting hurts Mama,” or “We don’t bite.”  After this, move on from the incident and continue nursing.

If by chance the biting continues, repeat the same phrase then end the nursing session for the time being.  Play, cuddle, or distract however you can.  Hopefully, your child will start to understand that the milk goes away when he/she bites.  It might take a few times, but the child should eventually start to learn and adjust his/her behavior.

Biting bites!  Just be calm and patient and know that this too shall pass.

Stay Awake! Go to Sleep!

“Stay awake” is a phrase rarely uttered in my house.  Nine times out of ten, it’s “Go the F**k to Sleep!”  But then there are times when it’s impossible to keep the kids awake and it is terribly inconvenient for them to fall asleep on me.

I drive around for an hour trying to get my son to nap in the car.  I finally give up because I’m getting to the point where I can no longer keep my eyes open.  Of course, he falls asleep a block away from the house.  My pleas for him to stay awake can’t be heard over his tiny snores.  I open the windows.  I turn up the radio and start singing Laurie Berkner at the top of my lungs.  I reach back and tickle his legs when stopped at a light.  Nothing.

I rock, bounce, shush, and sway my baby daughter in my Ergo for 40 minutes while her brother is in his gymnastics class, but her big eyes are wide open and taking it all in.  Five minutes before class is over, she suddenly nestles her head against my chest and starts to doze.  Knowing full well that as soon as I attempt to extract her from the wrap and place her in the car seat she is going to scream bloody murder (our car seat is made out of hot lava), I do my darndest to keep her up.  I play with her, I poke at her, I even let her brother slobber on her, but, of course, she’s out cold.  And, as predicted, as soon as she touches the car seat, she is wide awake.  Apparently, her five minute snooze was enough to re-energize her for another hour and a half.

Work with me, children!

You give me 22 minutes, I’ll give you the world!

The 1010 WINS news slogan “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world” runs through my head every time I’m trying to put my baby girl to sleep and my toddler son wants my attention.  I have tried many times to explain to him that if he gives me a couple of uninterrupted minutes to get her to sleep, I can give him my undivided attention for the next hour or so.  I have tried to entice him with baking or special art projects or playing catch as a reward when I return.  I have tried putting on his favorite show, not telling him what I’m about to do, and sneaking upstairs.  I have tried setting him up with something new that will keep him occupied independently, but five minutes in to each of these, he’s shouting for me at the top of his lungs, thus delaying the process even more.

My son also doesn’t seem to get that if he lets his sister stay asleep, we can, as I explained before, play more, one on one.  She doesn’t need to be poked or hear his fire truck’s siren while she’s napping.  Yes, it would be lovely for him to sing her a lullaby, but he doesn’t need to accompany himself on his drum, marching band style.  And, as nice as his hugs and kisses are, climbing into the co-sleeper to give her one while she is sleeping is not a good idea, and he should consider any dangling limbs (if she’s asleep on me in a wrap) off limits.

I try to give him as much dedicated mommy time as I can, and I wish he would understand that it is much easier to do so when I’m not strapped to the baby for every single nap.  Why is it that he can entertain himself and seem to not need me at other times of the day, but patience, logic, and rational thinking always seem to fall by the wayside right at nap time?  If you give me 22 minutes, my son, I’ll give you the world!

Activity: “Eggcellent” Adventures

My son and I recently decided to have an “eggcellent” adventure!  He loves to help me cook and, although I encourage him to get messy whenever possible, certain rules have to apply when we’re in the kitchen.  What kid doesn’t love to crack eggs?  But, as much as I’d love to trust him with this task, having him help me with adding eggs to a recipe often ends up with most of the whites on the countertop or too many shells to have to extract.

Now to some, this may seem gross, but to my two-year old, this was a real treat.  I had a carton of eggs that had reached its expiration date.  Instead of throwing them out, I decided to let him go to town!  I placed him in the bathtub in only a diaper with a glass bowl, a whisk, some measuring cups, and about a half-dozen eggs.

First, we counted the eggs.  Then we discussed the differences between raw and hard-boiled eggs.  We shook them, spun them, and rolled them around.  He couldn’t wait to get “crackin’!”  He tapped the egg on the side of the bowl ever so gently.  Then, he realized that he needed some more oomph and was so excited when the shell finally broke.  He tried to catch the egg as it dripped into the bowl and felt the different textures of the white and the yolk as they slipped through his fingers.  He had lots of fun trying to pick up the yolk so he could squish it.  He mixed, he scooped, and he dumped – first into the big bowl and then into all twelve slots in the empty carton.  He explored the differences between the eggs when first cracked versus when they were scrambled and was curious as to why the eggs couldn’t be put back to their original form.

We also had a great time examining the shells.  We noticed the different colors and textures on the inside and outside, but the most fun was had crushing the shells into a million tiny pieces.  They were pretty much pulverized when he was done with them!

Before it was time to clean up, the eggs were used to paint the shower walls.  He also decided to paint his arms and legs.  He was fascinated when the egg on his skin began to dry.  At this point, he decided he was done being messy and that it was time to wash it off.  We picked up the bowl of eggs, our tools, and as many of the shells as possible.  The shower went on and the walls, the bath mat, and my son were all hosed down.  Although this might be considered a weird activity, he learned a lot, the eggs didn’t go to waste, and it satisfied his curiosity.

On another note, we have started making a lot more hard-boiled eggs (and then egg salad) in our house.  It’s a cooking activity we can do together, my son loves to crack, peel, slice, and chop the eggs and, hey, we get a few lunches out of it!


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