Sunday, June 28, 2015

Baby Moon

 I apologize in advance for how many photos are in this post. Getting ready for Badger to come we have been sending Panda to visit my sister for longer and longer amounts of time. Saturday Bear and I took advantage of this rare time for the two of us to be alone together and escaped for a day trip Baby Moon to Lake Superior.
 There is a hidden treasure we found a few years back. This staircase, off of an unsuspecting road., known only to locals, and then not many...
Descends to a living breathing world of  green things and rushing water.
One can't resist dipping their toes into it. Feeling life rush , swirl, and dance around you.
While a few families were taking advantage of the easy to access rocks and water upstream, I found this grotto and stared longingly down. Bear was worried about my belly and the 20 foot drop nearly straight down; but eventually he had to smile, shake his head, and give in.
It was paradise. This secret grotto, all to myself.
So many beautiful reminders of loss and rebirth along the trail soothed my soul.
Nature whispered everywhere. Soothing songs from a language before words. We paused on the shores of Superior to wave to all our Canadian friends.
And found a few treasures. Bear has been searching for a holey rock for years.. We found three.
Amist all the relaxation and beauty nature had one more parting message blooming abundantly. Forget Me Nots... And with reverence and gratitude, I wont.
Shine on.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Toddler Thursday: Beach

 Welcome back! If last week was a flop, this week was an incredible success. Panda LOVED this whole week. Our beach sensory bin is made up of crushed graham crackers for sand, whipped coconut cream and food dye for waves, a Lego shark (lovingly on loan this week from my nephew), a Tiki cup, ping pong beach ball, towel, and tiny bucket. For the last two weeks Panda has tried to eat real sand. I thought he would love the edible sand, but when I went to show him it was cookie he told me to spit it out , "icky!". At least it sunk in. He did love dipping the shark in the "water" and painting the table with it. Hooray for a new texture!
 Here are our books for the week. Starlight Sailor has such beautiful illustrations. I found that at Half Price Book Store! An awesome find. Summer also has incredible illustrations. I love Gerda Muller books. There is a book for each season.They are beautiful seasonal picture books with seasonally appropriate out door shots and activities. Panda enjoys flipping through on his own.
Panda loves looking at pictures. I made 10 beach themed flashcards with pictures I found on various free clip art sites. When we work on flashcards I say "Ssss, Ssss, Sun.. Sun! Buh, buh, bucket.. Bucket!" and so forth. This worked REAL well for Panda. To our amazement he actually tried each and every word. This is a huge success for our boy who often says no more than a word a day. Our cards are; Ball, Bird (seagull), Bucket, Fish, Sand, Shovel, Sun, Towel, Umbrella, Water. 
We made a Hawaiian Lei using flowers I punched out of craft foam and cut pieces of straw. Panda loves to bead things and he was only to excited to try this new beading kit out. Beading focuses him while working on hand eye coordination.
This is a simple color wheel I made for Panda out of cardboard. We talked about colors and worked on matching the clothes pins to the right colors. In hindsight I should have used clothes pegs instead but he loves working with the pins so much. It takes all his concentration and strength to open them and then clip them on, but it's still a good exercise.
Our last activity is counting shells. We are working on 1-5 right now. While exploring these shells we talked about textures for his word association. Bumpy, smooth, prickly. etc..  Panda surprised me with how long he wanted to explore these new textures. I could not get him to put the starfish down. The moment he saw it he grabbed it up and proudly announced, "Star!!". We had to compromise to get this picture. I told him he could touch the star while I took the picture. It was the only way to get him to put it down (smiles). We will wrap this week up with a trip to the beach (or if the weather is bad, a trip to the community pool). Shhh.. It's a secret. I hope you enjoyed this week's post. We sure did. Till next time
Shine on!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Importance, Death, and Rebirth of a Lovey

I've committed a cardinal sin of parenting. I've Altered a Lovey! Please, let me explain why. Last summer I made this lovely doll for Panda. I wanted to make him a car buddy for a big trip and later to use this doll to help him sleep in his own bed. We named her Apple.
Panda took to her right away. Every morning she was greeted with a kiss, she had to be present at all times even if she wasn't being played with at the time, and she did get played with a lot. After our trip we even had him happily sleeping in his own bed for a little over two months. As long as Apple was nearby everything was safe...
Some family members frown on Panda's "girly" toys and actions. I think of them as nurturing traits and will help him grow to be a wonderful father one day. This picture was taken the day before Panda turned 1. He tucked his truck into a baby doll highchair and pretended to feed it.  Panda loves to cook in his kitchen, feed all his toys, and then rock them and put them to sleep in the doll cradle. Clearly it was time for my boy to have a doll of his own.
 Here he is tucking in his "babies", One day a family member who disproves decided to get Panda's attention by grabbing Apple and slamming her into the couch repeatedly to make a thumping noise. Panda was hysterical. The family member thought this was funny and started to laugh. I intervened quickly but the damage was done. In Panda's mind, Apple was dead.
From then on Panda would happily play with his other babies, but would only glance at Apple and toss her aside. This video shows him doing just that. He also gave up sleeping in his own bed and came back to our bed. With a new baby on the way this makes things  a little rough and we've just had to make the decision that if we can't get him back int his bed before the baby comes we will continue co sleeping for several more years with two children. Ironically the same family member that murdered Apple, also frowns upon co sleeping.
So I've given Apple a makeover. Panda has once again taken to this lovey. The bond is not as strong, but new Apple is greeted every morning with a kiss and is finding his way more and more into our daily play.
I have two exurbs from the wonderful book "Children at Play" by Heidi Britz-Crecelius that explain a lovey so much better than I could. If you have not read this book I strongly recommend it.
Pg. 83. "The favorite doll- it can also be a teddy bear or some other small animal- is endowed with a bit of the child's own soul. The child feels that the doll's life stems from its own."
Pg. 85" "Since, therefore, a doll can be of such importance to a child, adults should be just as conscious and careful in their treatment of the doll as they are in the treatment of the child".
When a doll is loved so much that it becomes a part of the child's soul we must be careful not to "harm" the doll, remove, or alter the doll until the child is ready. The child sees this as an act against themselves. I am so sad that my boy was exposed to this at such a tender age and lost a bit of his innocence and security.  People need to learn to recognize the importance of a lovey.  I truly hope Apple's rebirth will help him heal and come full circle. 
Shine on.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Toddler Thursday: Numbers

 Some weeks are a hit and others a miss. This week was a miss, but I promised to post things that didn't work as well as things that work. So here it goes. Our theme was numbers/counting and our sensory bin this week had numbers, beads for counting, stars for counting... And moon sand... Panda thoroughly enjoyed eating the sand. It might be a while before we try this again.
 We tried sliding pony beads onto pipe-cleaners and counting them. Panda usually enjoys beading, but this week he was uninterested.
 We tried hop scotch, but most days were to rainy or I was dealing with morning sickness or general pregnancy pains. So Panda mainly ran along our stepping stone paths when we were out and I just called out a number with each step. I don't know if he got anything out of that, but he thought it was fun that I said a "funny word" with each step he took (i.e. number). 
We tried drawing shapes and numbers in flour... Again, he was uninterested.
 So I made him a parking lot and numbered the spaces and cars. We named the numbers while parking them. This was more up his ally. However most days he just ripped up the tape as soon as I set it down.
To go with his parking lot I built a thriving metropolis. He loved this, but I had to put it together while he was asleep. This week was full of destruction and mouthing objects. However, it was not all demolition. I noticed him saying more words, asking for more things, and being generally more aware. Something must be working. Next week we will be working on word association with a Beach theme. Please stop on by next Thursday and Shine on!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Toddler Thursdays: Rainbows

 Hello, and thanks for checking back. This week was about using what we had around the house. Our theme this week is rainbows and we had a perfect week for this. It has been raining on and off all week.. Our Sensory bin this week is Jello! I'm really pushing Panda with new sensations to work on his sensory aversions. At first he would not touch this for anything. We tried smelling it, hitting it with a spoon, stirring, and then even dumping it into bath water to try and get him used to it. The bath water finally did the trick. As his bath was filling he helped swirl the water around with his hands. The jello chunks would brush his hand and he had a lot of fun. It's a start.
 I set out these bowls and asked Panda to find things that were red, blue, etc, to put into the bowls. I was happily surprised when he went and picked some strawberries to add to the red bowl on his own. An easy activity and any bowl will do. I just happened to have these on hand. 
 This is a fun stacking game that Panda loves. His grand-papa found it for him and it's been a hit. You could also just stack regular blocks or legos and sort them into piles of matching colors. 
 These light-blocks are still a hit, especially on rainy or very cold days. I do highly recommend them, but alternatives could be colored cellophane and water on the windows, or window markers. 
These were a birthday gift from Panda's Auntie that I've been waiting to introduce him to them till now. Alternatives could be looking through colored plastic or glass bottles or filling jars with colored water to look through. 
And last of all, to kick this week off Panda got a new Mud Kitchen! We made this from scraps around the house. It's not very big, but I love how it turned out. I had left over beach sand from a  project that I mixed with food coloring to make the Rainbow Mud! 
I know this week was heavy on the things we had around our home, but the idea is to look around your home and see what you might already have on hand. Sometimes pulling out something that has not been played with for a while and using it with a common theme can give it new life. Some other things we have done is to run in the sprinklers and spray each other with misting spray bottles looking for rainbows, blowing bubbles, and playing with rainbow colored fabrics. There also are a lot of color themed books at the library. Thanks for checking back. Have a colorful weekend. What colorful things can you find around your home?
Shine on!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Toddler Tuesday Updates

Hello, just a quick update. Toddler Tuesday is moving to Thursdays. Between appointments and therapy and just being overly tired with this pregnancy my husband suggested switching to Thursdays. Now I have most of the week to see how Panda does with the weeks activities and I have a little more time to work on preparing these posts. This week is all about rainbows and color. Check back on Thursday to find out what this picture is about and what other colorful activities we've been up to this week. Till then, Shine on!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Toddler Tuesday: Frogs!

Hello and Welcome! I'm sorry for the delay.This week we are working with Frogs,  Panda has some new therapists and they've given me a lot of ideas for working with Panda on his sensory issues. Today's sensory bin has sticky-gooey cooked oatmeal, fleece lily pads, chives, and frogs. For exploring I've added a spatula and a spoon.
I made homemade edible playdoh for Panda to squish his frogs into. As an afterthought I added some protein powder just in case he decided to take a nibble and low and behold he played with this activity for a little over an hour and ate every last bite of playdoh! 
1 tablespoon powdered milk (I used powdered goats milk)
1 Tablespoon protein powder ( I used vegan, you could also skip this and just use 2 table spoons of powdered milk)
2 Teaspoons honey (or maple syrup)
2 Tablespoon peanut butter (sun butter,almond butter...)
Mix until it forms a playdoh consistency. Too sticky? Add more powder. To dry? Add more honey or peanut butter. Enjoy!
Panda's new therapists suggested that I work on oral stimulation to help with his eating, mouthing, and speaking issues. So I made this fun frog crown for his dress up bin and bought a bag of party noisemakers to pretended they were frog tongues. Panda LOVED this. He's even tried a few times to work it himself, but so far it's a little to hard. But Hey! He's at least trying and that's a start in my book. 
For an active impact type of sensory input I took two pillowcases outside today. I tried to get Panda to hop around in them like a potato sack, but he was having an off day. This is a great way to burn off energy.  Maybe tomorrow. He usually loves to hop.  Everything was just a little off today.
This was another suggestion from his therapists. It's a body sock. Basically he crawls inside and gets sensory input on all sides. His therapists tried to get him to use one yesterday but he wouldn't go inside. I made this one up and he still wouldn't go in. Their sock is a tube of fabric  made out of a sweatpants type material. It was about two feet wide and five feel long. My fabric is the same approximate measurements. The inside is cool and feels a bit like satin and the outside is a bit like velvet with a textured pattern. Mine unfortunately does not stretch because I was wrong about what type of fabric I had on hand... Ooopss. The idea was to throw toys inside and get Panda to try to put them in, take them out, or retrieve them. So far what he enjoys doing is laying down on it and rubbing it's softness, or just dragging it around like an overly large blanket. We also hid noisemakers toys inside that he could hit and make a noise from the outside. I'm sure we will come up with several more ways to use this sock. Don't you just love open ended toys?

Ok.. I just had to throw this picture in.. Sorry. I have one handsome little man : )

This is actually a representation of Panda's bath. I couldn't get a good picture of them in the bathtub. We've been plopping these frogs into his bath since Sunday and he's been loving them. The lily pads are cut from foam from the dollar store and float nicely.
That's it for this week. Thanks for checking back in. I told you there were going to be some good ideas. These ladies are amazing. I'm so happy Panda was able to get into their program. I know he will flourish in the next few months. What is going on around your home this week?
Shine on!