Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Open Ended Ocean Themed Sensory Bin

If your toddler is anything like mine then you probably hear "I do it!" or "me do it" quite a bit. By using Montessori principles in my house, I'm able to reply "sure" a lot more often. It's not about giving Henry free reign, but it's about letting him exercise his independence by making a few small adjustments. 

While I strive to do this as much as I can, I don't generally give him freedom with his sensory bins. I choose the contents, the setting, and any tools. While the play is open ended, the setting is not. Until now. 

This week, Henry has an "I Do It" sensory bin with a little more freedom. He gets to pick the medium {water, water beads, shells, or glass bead} to make the bin exactly how he wants it. I also provided as basket of different tools and some ocean themed Toobs animals to add to the fun. 

toddlers, shells, water beads

With this system Henry has an empty bin that he can truly make his own as we learn about the ocean and the letter O at tot school this week. I'm excited to see all the possibilities that he comes up with!

Have you ever tried a more open ended sensory bin? How did it go? I'll share Henry's reaction in this week's tot school post!


Friday, July 26, 2013

The Day a Mouse Came in the House

Before I had Henry, I used to blog a lot about my dogs {see}. They were my babies and I loved them. Then, I had Henry and everything changed. They are still loved a lot, but in a really different way. Its really hard to explain, but they are sort of naturally pushed lower on your list of priorities. 

And, when you've spent every second of your day cuddling, rocking, touching, loving another human being, when you get that human to sleep the last thing you want to do is more cuddling, touching, and loving -- you want to sleep. You adjust, the dogs adjust. And you stop blogging about your dogs. 

Anyway, I recently I was having one of those perfect afternoons. Henry had fallen asleep quickly. The house was quiet. I was motivated and actually getting work done. And -- get this -- even cuddling with both my dogs. Then, out of the corner of my eye I see it -- a mouse in my house. 

I proceeded to freak out FREAK OUT. I jumped up on my chair and started screaming like a maniac -- not even caring if I woke up Henry, that's how serious this way. That stupid mouse ran all over my living room. ALL OVER. It didn't care about me or the dogs. And the dogs, they didn't care about it. 

Eventually, the mouse wandered into my kitchen and I burst out of my chair, grabbed my phone and sat outside in the 90 degree heat for 45 minutes until Henry woke up. When I had to go back in, there was no sight of the mouse. The dogs were staring at me as I paced back in front of the door and barking. 

I was so pissed at these two dogs. Why do I keep them around, if not to protect me from rodents? They are terriers, they are supposed to have a natural drive to kill these things. They just sat there. The mouse was three feet away at one point! My love for the dogs was at an all time low. They had failed me in every way.

This disappointment lingered for several days. Until, Morgan found the mouse. Dead. Not in one of the six traps we set. But neatly dropped on my sweatshirt in my office. So, in the end, the dogs {or at least one of them} came through for me. 

I guess they are pretty great. And I love them. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blogher '13: What I'm Wearing

Fashion is really not my thing. But I guess at a blogging conference you can't just wear sweats. I don't really see why, cause that is totally what I blog in like 98 percent of the time -- but that's besides the point. So, I got some outfits together. Here's what I'll be wearing to Blogher '13 in Chicago! 

1. Shirt: Ann Taylor Loft; Pants: Gap
2. Jacket: Ann Taylor Loft
3. Shirt: The Limited; Pants: Target
4. Shirt: The Limited; Shorts: Ann Taylor Loft
5. Shirt: Ann Taylor Loft; Pants: Gap

I'm obviously lacking in the accessory department. And, lets not talk about shoes. But hopefully, I wont embarrass myself. 

And the evening attire. It will be fun to actually dress like a grown up for a couple days. All of these dresses were borrowed from my sister, just in case you were starting think I actually owned cute clothes.

What are you wearing to Blogher? Am I the only stay-at-home mom that feels completely out of my fashion element?


Monday, July 22, 2013

Giant Water Bead Play for Toddlers

So, the other day at Michael's I found these giant water beads, they were just like the small ones that I love so much, but they were huge and they were on clearance! So for $0.99 I picked up a couple packages. I opened them one morning, hoping to use them that afternoon, but I was sad to learn they take 48 to 72 hours to fill. So, I waited...three days. 

In that time, I notice that these beads were not quite as awesome as the ones I'm used to. Many of the beads cracked and broke before they were even done filling up.They also ended up being double the size the package claimed they would be. When the beads were ready, they still broke at the slightest touch, which was disappointing. 

Despite their flaws, I had to figure out a way to use them. A sensory bin {my original idea} wouldn't quite work since they weren't sturdy enough for play. So, I came up with a simple Montessori inspired scooping tray. 

The idea was for Henry to scoop the big beads from one big bowl to the next. Its a great way to work on coordination,control, and fine motor skills. The beads themselves were very slippery so this proved to be quite a challenge for Henry. But the texture and their fun bounce kept him interested until every single bead broke open. See Henry in action in this Instagram video!

At that point, we purposefully squished them all and made a really fun gel. Then we had our sensory bin! Perfect for little feet, hands and the scoop.

Overall,  these were really fun while they lasted. I wish they hadn't been so fragile. But they were a cool activity on a hot summer afternoon!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Blogher is Almost Here -- Final Blogher13 link-up!

I cannot believe that I leave for Blogher13 in less than a week. Where has the time gone? I feel like I just decided I would go! Its crazy. I'm so excited, nervous, and pumped for this conference. I really hope I learn a ton so I can grow as a blogger and bring you guys awesome content. 

For the questions: 

1. What session are you most excited to attend? The DSLR Debrief! I try really hard to take nice pictures but its a struggle for me. Its something I've been working on and really hope to improve. Plus, even though I've had my camera for over a year, I still feel like I don't quite know all its tricks.  

2. What BlogHer party are you most excited to attend? Probably the Fly DIY party, I love me some DIY

3. Are you attending any private parties? I am. I'll save the details for another post! 
4. Will you be attending the Expo Hall? Of course! I hope to connect with some great brands while I'm at Blogher, and the Expo will be a key part in that. Although, I'm pretty nervous about chatting my blog up, I'm not very good at that kind of thing. 

5. Any last minute tasks you need to finish before we leave for the conference? Haha, yes. Like a ton of stuff -- getting a wax, buying some clothes, packing, writing some posts for next week and buying snacks. I'm sure the list could go on. I'm going to be scrambling until I leave Wednesday morning. 

If I can get my life together, I will have a few posts for you guys next week, otherwise it may be kinda quiet on the actual blog. I do know that I will constantly be on Instagram and Twitter, so if you don't already follow me there, you should if you want all the Chicago Blogher13 updates! 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Moving Forward, Moving On?

I've been avoiding writing this post. Partly because I don't want to face reality, partly because I really don't know what our new realty is. 

Some of you may have seen on Instagram, or noticed in the last tot school post that we took the crib down. It was the very first baby item  we purchased. I was like 5 weeks pregnant with Henry when we bought it. And all these years later it is still one of my favorite baby things that we purchased. Now its in storage, maybe never to be used by us again. 

It's a weird reality to face. Also, depressing and angry. 

Yet, here we are. Officially, this cycle we are taking a break from trying to conceive. The RE wanted at least a one cycle break before checking on the cysts or trying more medication. If we want to continue with treatment, he recommends more Clomid.

But do we want to continue? As I see it, we have a few options:

1. Try on our own. Pros - I don't seem to be terrible at getting pregnant. Cons - I can't seem to stay pregnant.

2. Stick with the RE's plan. Pros - Clomid lengthens my LP and could produce a better quality egg. Cons - I really don't like my RE, he's an asshat at best, plus at almost $1,000 a cycle we really can't afford it.

3. Pursue adoption. Pros - We maybe get a baby. Cons - It's not immediate, there's no guarantee, and I don't think we can afford an infant.

4. Become foster parents. Pros - We get another child in our house and an amazing opportunity to do something for someone in need. Cons - It could take awhile to get licensed, I'm not sure how Henry would react to children coming and going, and I don't know if infants would be guaranteed.

5. Stop everything and revisit in a few years. Pros - There's no more back and forth, no more ups and downs. We're young enough that kids may still be a possibility in a few years. Cons  - we may never have another baby -- who really wants to start over once their kids are past diapers/tantrums/preschool? We would have to be OK with having an only child.

I don't know, I just don't know. And I don't think Morgan knows. I wish someone could just make this decision for us. Just tell us what is best. Give us some odds. It feels like we are just wandering around in the dark unable to heal or actually go anywhere. Or, as if we are stranded on an island all alone -- we can see where we want to go, but we literally have no way to get there.

So, what do you do? What option would you take?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer is All About

Summer is that one time of year where anything seems to go. I don't know why, its part of the fun. Afternoon swimming, well, sometimes swimsuits are optional. I'm not a very spontaneous person, but there is a simple joy in just living in the moment and giving in to your toddler's innocent demand to go swimming -- now!

This summer has turned out to be a little more difficult, and busy that we had intended. These moments are really helping us heal, and  remember the good in life. We are so lucky. Look at those eyes, those curls. 

Maybe it's a summertime thing, or maybe we are going to be in really big trouble -- cause who can say no to this face? Seriously? It's not getting any easier.

{Also notice the giant mosquito on his neck -- parenting photography fail}

Am I the only one finding it hard to say no this summer?


Monday, July 15, 2013

Letter N Tot School

I feel like we have been working on the letter N at tot school forever! It was sandwiched between the Fourth of July tot school week so I guess we kind of have been! Prior to this week Henry could identify the letter N and say the N. He still sometimes has trouble with the lowercase n and says its u.

On our first tray was a number circle -- N is for numbers -- I made using a small lower case n stamp. Each wedge had a larger number of n's from one to nine. Then, there were small corresponding number cards. The goal was then to match them up. 

Henry enjoyed this activity but didn't have the patience to count all the n's. He did really well numbers one to five then got bored. I think the n's were a touch small for him as well making the larger numbers fairly difficult to count. 

The second tray was his name with a bunch of circles missing and a small bowl of glass beads. The goal was for Henry to fill in the circles with the glass beads. I liked that N was not only for name but also that there is an N in his name to identify. 

The first week Hen was much more interested in dumping the beads between the bowl on tray two and the cup on tray one. But, by the second week he was a pro at filling the circles in. 

The final tray was a nuts and bolts tray -- N is for nuts! This was Henry's favorite tray of the week. In one bowl were a bunch of large bolts and in the other a bunch of large nuts. The idea was for Henry to spin several nuts on to each bolt. 

This was a really big challenge for Henry, and it surprised me that he worked so hard at it. Even by the end of the week, he still needed a lot of help getting the nut onto the bolt. He would twist in both directions at the same time therefore making no progress. Anyway, he enjoyed the challenge, and these large bolts ended up being perfect for his little hands. 

The sensory bin this week was a total bust. It was relatively full, but still Henry ignored it, which almost never happens. I think he really enjoyed the trays and focused more on those. 

Other things we did this week included: 

Nest Making Tray: I added some Spanish moss, some sticks and an egg to a tray along with a book about nests and let Henry go. He loved this and we spent a lot of time crafting nests for this little egg. 

Number Dot Stamping 

Dry Erase Number Tracing: This was another favorite activity. I spent a lot of time encouraging good pencil grip this week.

Letter N and Numbers Magnet Board

Tot School
Montessori MondayFor the Kids Friday The Weekly Kids Co-Op at B-Inspired MamaTuesday Tots