Tuesday, December 31, 2013

10 Things Tuesday: New Tricks

My darling 18-month-old can be a lot of work sometimes. But he sure knows how to make up for it. Especially lately, Brayden is a constant source of amusement and entertainment for dear hubby and I. Some of our recent favorite tricks include:

For Christmas, Poppy got Brayden a miniature basketball hoop. This absolutely thrills me. Not only does Brayden love it, but it keeps my husband busy for hours on end as well. (Though I am getting a tad tired of the requests from a grown man: "watch me! watch this shot! from downtown! think I can make it? what will you give me if I do?")

Already better than Daddy...

Hide and Seek
Specifically hiding various objects in places Daddy & Mommy would never look. For instance...

Brayden has a stuffed dalmatian named Pongo that serves as his security blanket. Although he usually only gets Pongo for sleep-time, after a particularly traumatic Santa visit, I allowed him to have him during the day. When naptime came around, I couldn't find the darn thing anywhere. Thankfully, we have THREE Pongos floating around (anyone with a child who has a security item will understand) so I just gave him a different one. I still wanted to find the missing dog though, so I spent a good 45 minutes looking around. Couldn't find him anywhere. Daddy comes home from work and I tell him about the MIA toy. He looks everywhere too. Can't find him either. Finally, after hours of looking, we found the silly dog. He was stuffed into Daddy's secret stash of Lucky Charms under a cabinet. We looked in that cabinet a dozen times for Pongo, but never thought to look inside the cereal box!

The only way this story would be funnier is if Daddy
had found the toy when pouring his cereal the next morning.

One of the other hit toys from Christmas was a Magna-Doodle. Holy smokes, does Brayden love this thing. He plays on it constantly. Lately, he's been bringing it to me, sitting on my lap and demanding I draw something. I'll draw something familiar and he'll identify it in his own way - either by saying his version of the word, or by making the noise the animal I drew makes.

Dance Moves
Brayden has always been a dancer. But lately, he's added a new move to his repertoire and it cracks me up. He does the finger point (think old man or Chandler from Friends). I've been trying to get it on video lately and this is the best I could do.

Kiss Requests
I'm not sure when he picked it up, but now when he bonks his head or smashes his fingers inside something, Brayden comes running to me for a kiss. He reaches the injured body part out towards my face and then happily runs away to continue playing once I oblige. ♥

Stack-an-Object 3.0
First it was the dog cabinet. Then it was Mommy's bakeware. Now we're onto cereal boxes.

By far, my favorite trick. Brayden must help Mommy unload the dishwasher whenever it's ready. He takes each dish or piece of silverware out of it and hands it to me (and if I'm not looking, he walks over to the silverware drawer and reaches up as high as he can to put it inside himself). He also has been taking dirty dishes over to the dishwasher after meals, opening it up and putting them inside. Man, I love this kid.

Maybe I should rent out his services?

Guilty Conscience
I'm pretty fortunate that Brayden is a good kid. He doesn't really get into much trouble or mischief. And the few times he does something he knows is wrong, he comes over to tell me. Lets hope even an iota of this conscience lasts through his teenage years (stop laughing... I can dream!).

Pointing to where he colored on the floor.

Find it
We have a lot of word books at home (those books with pictures that you just point to and say the word for). Brayden loves them. And lately, whenever we get to an item that he has, he has to show me where it is. So one of his books has a crib in it. When we're in his room and I point to the picture and say "crib," he has to turn around and point to his actual crib. I love the reasoning involved in that skill. And even more so, he points to things that aren't actually there at the moment (he points out the window for "truck" or in the kitchen for "blueberries") and altered versions of objects (he has a snowman sippy cup that he points to when I show him a picture of an actual snowman).

Brayden has been throwing things for our dogs for a while now. Earlier this week, Brayden decided to join in the fetching fun. He would pick up the frisbee, run it across the room, drop it to the floor (or throw it a foot away), watch our dog bring it back to me, and then run over to me himself to retrieve it. He repeatedly did that for about 15 minutes. I was just sitting there. Enjoying not having to do anything to keep both my child and my dog amused. It was a joyful time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Very Brayden Christmas

Less than a week until Christmas? Really??? It feels like everything is just sneaking up on me these days! Thankfully, despite the quick (and stealthy) approach of winter holidays, my little guy and I have managed to do quite a few festive activities. Some of Brayden's (or my) favorite ones are below (though admittedly, we've had so much fun with the daily things as well... listening to Christmas music, baking holiday treats, etc.). ♥

(For the super-enlarged view of the photos, click on them. And to see a few of last year's craft projects, click here.)

Decorating the Tree
Brayden loved it. Although he had some trouble hanging the ornaments himself, he had no problem telling me where to put each one (which might be why every University of Michigan ornament we own is at the bottom of the tree -- within his line of sight). He also decided that his fake fruit was the missing touch to the tree's decor (as I've found them in there several times since the tree went up).

Homemade Gift Wrap
This was my favorite project of the holiday season. I spread a roll of craft paper across our kitchen table, let my little guy sit atop of it, and watched him go to work. He loved having such a big canvas (instead of being confined to a piece of paper or small area like he usually is) and was coloring and painting in huge strokes across the sheet. I cut festive shapes out of sponges for him to use as stampers, and bought a cheap set of cookie cutters to use in the same way. We did this over two days (so I could keep advancing the roll and making more paper) and every time, it was a ton of fun. I used the wrapping paper for special gifts from little guy to all his family members.

Craft Projects
Just a few of the fun projects we tackled over the past few weeks: a handprint Christmas tree, salt dough ornaments (thanks to Grandma S. for coordinating this one!), a snowflake painting (I just taped down a snowflake, let him paint around it, and then peeled it off after drying), and a handprint wreath plate.

More Winter Fun
I couldn't resist posting the picture of my little guy in his snow bib and hat. We were getting ready to go out in the snow and he looked so freaking adorable I just had to take a few snapshots. He was so intrigued by the snow and kept begging me to take off his gloves so he could play in it. Once he finally touched it, he quickly decided it was not something he enjoyed. Brayden has also been in love with this holiday bear that plays Jingle Bells when you touch his foot (it was a gift to him last year). He's been carrying it around for weeks and snuggling up to it constantly. ♥

Santa Visit
As expected, this was the result of our recent trip to see Santa. Brayden was so excited about Santa until the moment when I handed him off. It must be a rite of passage for toddlers.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

33 Weeks!

Holy smokes... only seven more weeks to go. Really??? ♥

It's been six weeks since my last belly picture... and it certainly shows! I can't believe in a month and a half, we'll have another little baby in the house. :)

Baby: I'm in that part of pregnancy where baby is gaining weight like crazy. One-third to one-half of the baby's weight comes in the last seven weeks of pregnancy... which means the baby is gaining about half a pound each week. All of the baby's major organs are developed now (except for the lungs which are still maturing) and all five senses are in working order. They say that babies in the womb can now recognize and react to familiar sounds or songs. If so, we're going to have an entire family of Raffi-lovers since Brayden must listen to his music during car rides. (And since Daddy can't resist belting out the tunes even when we're not in an automobile)

Mommy: No complaints, as usual. ♥ I have been very blessed to have another healthy and happy pregnancy so far. I've been keeping extremely busy with all the things we have going on right now (holidays, traveling, room-switching fun, etc.) but am still trying to fit in some good prenatal care. I've been getting to the gym for some running and elliptical fun, and am working to incorporate prenatal yoga again. All of our traveling has certainly made it a bit difficult, but with any luck, the last seven weeks will be just as active as the first several months. I've been finding myself having a few random cravings (odd, since those typically come during the first trimester!) and the usual shortness of breath that comes in the last part of pregnancy. All in all though, things are going great.

Daddy: I think my sweet hubby is starting to get just a wee bit nervous about the additional work of another baby. Every time I excitedly remind him how close the big day is, I can see his panic level  rise just a little bit. :) Yes, the early days (and months) are a bit difficult... but so very worth it. Other than that (and pitching every University of Michigan athletic-related name option he can think of for our upcoming arrival), he's doing good as well.

Next Up: After next week, my doctor's appointments become weekly visits. Although I don't mind them (I still adore hearing the baby's heartbeat each time!), Brayden seems quite bored with them. It will be interesting to try to come up with new ways to entertain my toddler while waiting at the doctor's office (especially if I have any more experiences like last week... when I had to wait almost an hour!). Brayden is officially moved into his new room now, so we're just finishing getting the nursery ready for a new baby. There's not too much more preparation to go... other than settling on a name for the little one. :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Fun

The month of November has been a blur. We've been busier than usual (birthday festivities for the hubby... a visit from some out-of-town friends... doing all the necessary cleaning/painting/preparations to convert the guest room into Brayden's new room... etc.). I was hoping to do a daily holiday craft or activity with Brayden again, but it didn't quite work out that way this month. We did manage to do some festive activities however...

Goody Box
I love getting Brayden a few small things for an upcoming holiday. For Thanksgiving, it included some fall themed plates/bowls, a little toy scarecrow and some festive utensils (which doesn't sounds so exciting, but since Brayden has decided he simply must eat every item of food - including blueberries - with a fork, it actually is).

Autumn Advent Jar
I wanted to do some kind of countdown until Thanksgiving, but since Brayden is too young for something number-based, I had to get creative. We went out to the park and collected seeds together (acorns would have been better, but I couldn't find any around here!). Brayden had a great time looking for the seeds and putting them in a bucket. Afterwards, I just put them in a box with a glass jar and had Brayden move one from the box to the jar each morning. For a while, he was really into it (and would point to the jar while in his crib to remind me to get it for him). When things started to get crazy over here, the daily activity stopped and the jar morphed into a "filling and emptying" game. :)

Holiday Books
I found a few super cute ones out there with a Thanksgiving or fall theme. One of the more interesting ones is the true story of the Macy's Day Parade - and the man who created all the puppets for it. (It's called Balloons Over Broadway if you're interested)

Fall Ornaments
I'm really glad the Michaels store near us keeps carrying these holiday-themed wooden ornaments. For some reason, Brayden just loves them. Again, he had a great time using markers to color in ornaments.

Pilgrim Hat Game
Essentially, this is just a baby shell game. I made little pilgrim hats out of cardstock and used one of the seeds we collected in it. I put it under a hat and had Brayden find it. I progressively made the game harder, by adding another hat, moving one of the hats or even moving two of the hats. Brayden had a great time trying to figure out where the seed was and would get a huge grin on his face when he got it right! (...until he decided it was more fun to try to tear apart the hats, that is...)

Thanksgiving Cards
Definitely a fan of stickers and stamps, Brayden had fun (once again) making holiday cards for family members. (Too bad I only got them in the mail today...)

Handprint Art
To be included in the above activity, we did another handprint project together. Brayden has grown to love these. He giggles when I paint his hand and then has a great time using it as a stamper. This time, we did turkeys - brown for the palm and thumb (body and head of the bird) and then different colors on his fingers for the turkey's feathers. I then went back and added a beak, eyes and feet for the little critters. They ended up looking darn adorable!

Fall Beads
I wasn't sure Brayden was going to be able to do anything with beads (since they're so small), but after finding some fall-themed beads at the store, we went ahead and strung them together to make a necklace anyway. I was really surprised by how precise Brayden was (he was holding the beads still while I put the string through) and how interested he was in the activity.

Fun with Leaves
Throughout the month, we did a lot of playing with leaves. Running through them, throwing them in the air, collecting them, identifying the colors of them. By far, the biggest winner was running through them. ♥

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

10 Things Tuesday: Silly Toddler

At his core, my little guy is an adorable combination of silly and sweet. Below are a few of my favorite snapshots/videos from recent weeks that illustrate the sillier side (with a few sweet ones mixed in just 'cause)... ♥

Sporting a new hat

Making another fashion statement... with a changing pad.

He always has something to giggle about. ♥ 

Trying to balance on Daddy's chest

His new favorite play area... the spot between his high chair and the wall.
Loves to try to fit through there (and most recently has been taking
toys there and getting them stuck).

The day he decided it was Mommy's turn to drink from a sippy cup
(after trying to feed me his banana slices)

Sweetest picture ever. Daddy and Baby at the WWII Memorial

Coloring in a box. Because I did that with him one time,
every time we get a box in the mail - no matter how large or small -
he wants to sit in it and color.

When he wants to be tickled, he lays on the floor and giggles.

And then there's this craziness. I love how when one of the pieces comes off, he calmly stops to fix it before proceeding with the insanity. ♥

And there you have it. My little boy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Back in Time

My maternal grandmother died long before I was born, and although I never got to meet her, this week I definitely felt like I got to know her a little.

I always have a dozen projects going on at once (and another three dozen sitting in my queue). I started working on one project this week and ended up getting quite sidetracked on another. While cleaning out the guest room to start converting it into Brayden's toddler room, I came across the stack of recipes I brought here from Florida a few months back. Recipes that were from my grandmother's kitchen.

My grandmother was a famously good cook and I always hear stories from my mom about her parties and amazing hostess abilities. I've long wanted to type up some of her recipes into a book for the other females in my family, but it's quite a large undertaking. There are literally piles of recipes.

Yesterday, I finally started the process and began sifting through everything (nearly 500 recipes it turns out). I ended up rather enjoying the process, as I began to learn more about my grandmother through her cooking. For example, she loved pineapple and bananas (I must have seen at least two dozen banana bread or banana cake recipes alone). She liked cooking with nuts - especially pecans - and was strongly connected to her own heritage (I never realized kolacky could be spelled in so many different ways!). Certain items were held in higher favor than others -- coffee cakes and cheesecakes seemed to be definite favorites of hers.

And then there was the time lapse. It was so interesting to see all these recipes -- taken from newspapers decades ago. Every now and then, I'd come across something else on the page that made me chuckle. My favorite gem was: "The clever hostess will tuck fruit into her cream puff fillings." Lauren couldn't understand why I found that so amusing, but everything about that quote just made me smile at the generation I was immersed in.

It's no secret that I love baking and cooking myself... and some of my grandmother's inclinations and habits made me feel closer to her. Things that she and I both do (i.e. recipe hoarding, adjusting recipes until they're perfect), or just that internal need to make everything from scratch. I loved seeing a recipe jotted down on the back of a bank deposit slip... or something printed from a typewriter rather than a computer.

There was just so much personality, so many stories, and so much tradition in the papers I was looking through. It's funny how something as simple as a pile of recipes can hold so much more than that. ♥

Thursday, November 7, 2013

27 Weeks

This is the last week of my second trimester. I can not believe there's less than three months to go before my due date (and since my suspicion is that the antsy little bundle of joy won't last until the due date, it could be even closer).

Baby: The baby must have just gone through a growth spurt (or else all the Halloween candy has taken its toll) because I seem to have had a belly-spurt the last week or two. People still tell me I look small for six months, but I'm measuring just right. Right now the baby weighs about 2 pounds. During the third trimester, I think the baby starts putting on almost half a pound per week. Yikes!

Mommy: No complaints. ♥ I enjoy the nightly gymnastics sessions baby performs (usually between 9-11 pm) and am getting a kick out of how he or she responds to Brayden's voice. I'm finally starting to prepare for the arrival - getting necessary items and starting work on the rooms. It's nice to be doing something to get ready; it's getting me more excited and making the big day feel even closer. Otherwise, everything is going great. Very healthy, very happy. :)

Daddy: Finally finished his big projects and is able to come home at normal hours (yay!). Has been doing sweet things for me now that I'm getting bigger (I adore the foot rubs and dishwashing-duty he's taken on). He also knows his role well when it comes to room design: telling me everything sounds great and to go ahead and order what I want. Love that man.

Next Up: I now start going to the doctor every two weeks... which is always a fun adventure with Brayden in tow!). I think we're going to start painting and putting Brayden's new room together next weekend (so excited to do that). And eventually, we probably have to... oh, I don't know... come up with a name or two??

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

10 Things Tuesday: Recently...

What I've been up to lately (aside from making a person and chasing a toddler, of course...)

Finalized babymoon plans for next month
We're all set for a weekend away (can't believe it's our first without the little guy!) in mid-December. Picked a historic plantation built by George Washington's grandparents in 1642 (gotta love historic Virginia!) and located close enough to Colonial Williamsburg for a visit (since I've still never been). So excited. ♥

The B&B we're staying at (including the suite we booked on bottom right)

Outlawed to-do lists
It's no secret that I'm a list maker. The problem is that my to-do lists end up three pages long and are entirely unrealistic. So instead of feeling like I accomplished things at the end of the day, I usually just remember how long that list still is and feel stressed. I abandoned lists once before and loved it. My insightful husband had reassured me that "You'll get done what needs to get done. Things will get accomplished when you think of them and make it a priority." And he was right. Not sure when I fell back on the habit, but lately, I started feeling overwhelmed again. Instead of working harder and doing more, my answer is to do less (sort of). The irony is that I actually get more accomplished this way (and don't feel stressed out in the process!).

Watched Monsters University via Netflix
It was cute. And I'm pretty sure Lauren cried at the end of it.

Enjoying my dancing, cleaning fool
Brayden loves dancing. To everything and anything. Toy jingles. Silly songs that mommy and daddy make up. Even daddy drumming his fingers on the table at breakfast gets him moving. We've been having a ball watching him get his groove on (and joining in of course!). Brayden is also the cleanest toddler I've ever met. He is constantly wiping and tidying things. If he sees a piece of pasta lying on the floor (from his sensory bin), he picks it up, walks over to the bin and makes me get it down so he can put it where it goes. In the morning, when I clean his face after breakfast, he won't let go of the wipe. Instead, he starts cleaning everything in sight (including the dog and my belly) and then walks to the trash and throws it away. And most recently, I saw him playing pretend...

Bought some new kicks
My old running shoes had way too much mileage on them. And since I'm six months pregnant and still jogging regularly, I wanted to make sure I didn't cause unnecessary strain on my body.

P.S. They're pink.

Resumed working on my book
I came up with a few days a week that I can reliably work on it, and have actually been doing so. Started organizing my notes and story ideas and hope to be onto an outline and then narrative writing in the not-too-distant future.

Baked a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch
Not too bad for a first attempt. I've never blind-baked a pie crust before (when I make homemade dough, it's for things like apple pie which can get baked at the same time as the crust). That was the most difficult part of the process. The filling was excellent but the crust was a bit burnt. I learned a lot though, and think I could do much better next time.

Funny that fresh pumpkin puree isn't orange. Makes you wonder what's in the cans...
Ordered all of Brayden's furniture and designed his room
Finally settled on a color and theme for Brayden's toddler room. So excited to start work on it... I think it's going to look amazing. Furniture is ordered (and being delivered tomorrow and next weekend) so we're on track to have it put together by the beginning of December. Hooray!

Started working on colors with my little guy (and made some pretty sweet sensory boxes for him)
I sort of started working on colors last month with one of his Halloween projects, but he didn't seem terribly interested so I dropped it. Recently, I realized that all of Brayden's major milestones came after he seemed not interested. All those times he didn't seem like he was picking something up (like walking or pointing to body parts) he was actually observing and taking it all in. And then one day he just decided to do it. Since that seems to be his thing, I decided to go back to colors and let him play with the concepts a bit more. I'm planning on giving him one color box every 3-5 days and trying to emphasize the same color for that time. We just started red this week... so we'll see how the process goes!

Color sensory boxes (with pasta I dyed each color)
Overheard someone talking about me
At my last appointment, my doctor was working with an intern. The door to my exam room was barely cracked - just enough for me to (unintentionally) hear their conversation. Standing outside my door, my doctor started giving the intern a summary of me and my pregnancy. It made my day that the very first thing she said about me was "This is Krystin. She is super sweet. She's also having another ultra-healthy pregnancy and will be the easiest patient all day."

Kind nice to overhear someone saying good things about you. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

31 Days of Halloween (Part III)

With all the craziness from the past week or two, I wasn't quite able to make it to 31 activities. Nonetheless, I thought it was a pretty good effort -- and Brayden had a lot of fun with everything. Here's our final round of Halloween festivities.

(See the first set of activities here and the second set here.)

18. Visiting a Pumpkin Patch

Since we're planning on carving pumpkins, we took our little guy to a local pumpkin patch so he could pick one out. He had quite a bit of fun running around all the pumpkins!

19. Holiday Apparel

I love getting festive outfits for Brayden for holidays. The night before a holiday, I always put him in special pajamas for the occasion. I know it's not Halloween Eve yet, but I'm sure I'll do about twelve loads of laundry before then so he can wear these cute PJs again. :)

20. Shadow Puppets

Brayden loved this activity. All I did was sketch some Halloween shapes on black cardstock, cut them out with a craft knife and then tape a wooden skewer to them (I did cut off the pointy end just to make sure Brayden didn't hurt himself somehow). We sat in the living room with the lights turned off and a flashlight handy and made the shapes come up on the wall. My little guy was SO into this. He eventually grabbed the puppets, walked to the wall and started making them dance across it himself. ♥

21. Halloween Egg Hunt

Hubby gave me a hard time for using "Easter" eggs in October, but it was another great activity. I took a dozen plastic Easter eggs and found some leftover Halloween stickers from an earlier craft project. Brayden and I sat down together and decorated all the eggs with stickers to make them (somewhat) holiday appropriate. Then we took his pumpkin bucket to his room and I had him sit in the middle of it while I "hid" eggs all around (in plain sight). Brayden understood the nature of the game almost immediately (after I told him to put an egg in the bucket and cheered when he did so...) and was running through his room finding and collecting them. So much fun.

22. Neighborhood Party

Our community has a little Halloween party for the kids so we dressed Brayden up and took him over. It was low-key for adult party standards, but Brayden had a great time. He loved spinning the little prize wheel they had (and kept cutting in front of all the big kids to spin it and run away) and was stomping through the party growling at everyone.

The rest of this week are "traditional" Halloween activities...

23. Carving Pumpkins

So long as Daddy can make it home before bedtime one night this week, we'll be making some nice faces on the pumpkins we got from the patch.

24. Halloween Library Time

Our local library has a few weekly "rhyme time" and "story time" activities for kids. This week is a Halloween theme, so I'm going to try to get him out there one of the days they offer it.

25. Trick-or-Treating

Because how could we not?

...And now onto November for some Thanksgiving themed activities! ...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beauty Amid Chaos

The last week and a half has been hard. Really hard. Hubby has two huge projects he's been working on so he's been spending more time at the office than at home. Consequently, I've been feeling a bit like a single mom and Brayden has been missing daddy a ton. Translation: I'm tired and Brayden is grumpy. His crankiness was through the roof for a few days and I felt so down and out.

Despite the exhaustion and difficulty of the last week though, two of my favorite things ever happened. Sort of a beauty amid the chaos type of situation, I suppose. And since half the point of writing this blog was to record the little things I may not remember in a year, I want to make sure they go down somewhere. Because really, they just made my heart melt. (And since I'm six months pregnant, they even made me cry a bit)

A Sweet Good Night

One day last week hit a high point of crankiness for Brayden. Nothing was making him happy (it was the whole "crying-to-be-picked-up-and-getting-angry-once-he-was-being-held" type of mood...). I did my best to be patient and have fun with him, but it was definitely one of the rough ones. Bedtime rolls around and I start his routine myself (daddy was working real late that night). We read some books. He takes a bath. Then he gets his half-cup of milk.

I'm rocking him in the chair in the dark - just like usual - and realize he's being a bit fidgety. He's finished his milk and is just playing with the cup now. I gently take it away and set it on the nightstand. I ask him "do you want me to sing you a song?" He gives me his adorable, whispy "yeah... yeah..." response. So I sing to him. And he holds my hand and just sits there quietly for about ten minutes while I sing to him. Finally, I ask "are you ready to go to bed?" Another "yeah" whisper. I pick him up and walk over to his crib.

I say "I love you... good night" and go to put him in his crib. Before I do, though, he gives me a kiss and then puts both hands on the side of my face (it's what he thinks a hug is). I put him down and then walk out of the room teary-eyed. My sweet and adorable little boy who just gave me an unsolicited act of love and affection.

A Big Brother

The other moment came a few days later. Several times a week, I take Brayden for a couple-mile run that passes a playground in our neighborhood. It's at the end of the route, so I always let him play there for a while before walking the rest of the way home. We went to the park that day, and since the weather was nice, it got somewhat crowded. A little boy - maybe about 4 years old? - comes into the park and walks by Brayden. He pats his head, looks up at me and says "He's cute! What's his name?"

After I tell the boy his name, he befriends my little 16-month old child. "Brayden! Watch this!... Brayden! Come over here and play with me! ...Brayden! What do you want to do now?" He follows Brayden around the playground, showing him different things and talking to him. Holding his hand, helping him up the stairs or down the slide. He brings him over to an area of the playground covered with leaves. "All you have to do is push all the leaves together, pick them up, and then THROW them in the air!" Immediately, Brayden giggles and the two boys stand there throwing leaves in the air together.

At one point, the little boy -- who was there with his grandfather --  tells me "he would be an awesome little brother!" before running back over to play with Brayden again. When we leave, the boy comes over to the fence and yells "Bye Brayden! I love you! Hope to see you again soon!"

I love how children embody all of the joy and goodness in the world. It's such a pure, untouched and unquestioned goodness. It can turn even the most difficult day into a amazing and joyful one. ♥

Friday, October 18, 2013

31 Days of Halloween (Part II)

Let the 31 Days of Halloween continue! Our second batch of pumpkin-filled fun included...
(See the first set of activities here!)

8. Pumpkin Stencil Painting

A few weeks ago, as a gameday project, I cut out a Michigan "M" and taped the negative space to a blank sheet of paper. I let Brayden fingerpaint (in yellow and blue, of course) over it and when he was finished, I took away the stencil. It turned out to look pretty darn awesome, so I employed the same method here with a pumpkin. This time, I let him use a paintbrush though, since he's been playing with mine lately and seems interested.

9. Halloween Coloring

An easy activity day: just a Halloween coloring book and some over-sized crayons for our little guy.

10. Spider Handprint Art

When we did the ghost footprints, Brayden was a bit confused. When I put the paint on his hand for this activity, he giggled the whole time! (I wish the set of baby paints I bought had a black, though! The spiders would have looked much cooler a bit darker)

11. Halloween Bath 

(& Bonus Pumpkin Painting Activity!)

So this activity was a bust. I found these 99-cent "grow-your-own-Halloween-creature" toys at Michaels and decided to give them a try. They were those tiny objects you put in water and watch expand to 600 percent their original size (or so says the package). I figured that putting a few of them in the bath as toys for Brayden would be fun... and watching them grow would be exciting for him. Not only did they hardly grow at all, but they were covered in this nasty, slimy gel that Brayden was of course, fascinated with.
At least a friend of mine had set up a bonus activity for the kiddos earlier in the day. She set up an art table with paintbrushes, sponges and other materials for painting pumpkins and let them have at it. The boys loved it!

12. Festive Ornaments

I'm not sure why this one was such a winner, but Brayden threw a major fit when it was time to quit. For 99-cents, I found a set of wooden Halloween "ornaments" and markers to color them in. Brayden had a great time coloring the wood with his markers and just did not want to stop. Color me confused (but happy!). 

13. Fun Halloween Photos

Since I'm hoping to send a few photos to family members next week, I won't post the adorable pictures I took of my little guy for the holiday. It was a lot of fun having him pose for a few festive snapshots though. 

14. Pumpkin Mosaic

(So many pumpkin projects!) Another easy activity. I took a few different shades of orange cardstock and cut shapes out of them. Cut out a pumpkin from white cardstock, covered it with glue and let Brayden put the small pieces where he wanted. We'll go back to this next week and see if we can't fill it in more, but his attention span the day of this activity was relatively short. :)

15. Cotton Ball Ghost

The same premise as the pumpkin mosaic. Brayden was pretty interested in the cotton balls and really liked pressing them down hard to make sure they stuck. It doesn't quite look like a ghost, but he still had fun. 

16. Halloween Bowling

Holy cow, was this one a winner. It was so great that I actually had to take some video of the activity. It's a straightforward activity: toilet paper rolls with ghost faces (I made them with black cardstock) and a pie pumpkin that I took the stem off of. I set up the toilet paper on one side of the living room and we tried to roll the pumpkin across the room and knock them down. I tried this in the afternoon (just before Daddy came home from work) and Brayden was immediately intrigued. He got the idea pretty quickly and started stacking the rolls himself after we rolled the pumpkin. Once Daddy got home, one of us became a pin monkey and made the game WAY more fun (not nearly as many breaks in the action... and one of us was guiding his hand so he could "roll" the pumpkin himself). We yelled and fussed every time the pins came down and Brayden would squeal with delight each time. After that, he started picking up the pumpkin himself, walking over to the "pins" and just bombing them (which was just hilarious). By the end, even Lauren was squealing with delight. :)

17. Felt Jack-O-Lanterns

Another activity that hubby (and mommy!) ended up playing with just as much as Brayden. I cut a pumpkin out of felt and then a bunch of random shapes that could become its eyes, nose, mouth, etc. (I put the pumpkin on foam board I had left over from something else just to make it sturdier). I made a face for him first (on the left) so he could see what to do, then I handed him shapes and let him put them on the pumpkin however he wanted (on the right). He enjoyed the activity the first two times, but got bored with it much quicker than Mommy and Daddy (we're still playing with it!).

We're more than halfway done with the month and are still having a blast trying new activities and projects. Things are getting pretty chaotic in our household  (Daddy is supremely busy at work right now), so I hope we can keep up the daily activities.