David recently built this boat for Jessica and John:
(I am still hopeful that he will write a tutorial on how he made this boat on his blog sometime…) What is really neat about this boat, is that it can become set of stairs…
or a crepe stand!
We’ve used this boat almost every week at preschool, and it is a really excellent toy for kids with Sensory-Processing Disorder that need some extra vestibular stimulation! It’s also a great toy for fueling the imagination!!! There are a few retailers online, such as Blueberry Forest Toys, but I guarantee we didn’t spend nearly that much on our boat!!! All it cost us was a piece of plywood!
My mom used to make homemade playdough when I was little because she found that it was easier to clean up than the store bought stuff. As an added bonus, it is non-toxic (mostly just a bunch of salt and flour) which proved useful when John decided to eat some the other day…..I am winning the “Mom of the Year” award daily these days!! This is the base recipe I usually use:
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat), 1/2 cup salt, 2 teaspoon cream of tarter, 1 cup water, 1 Tablespoon oil
Mix dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add water and oil. Cook stirring for 3 minutes or until mixture pulls away from the pan. Knead and store in an airtight container.
Recently I have come across a lot of different ideas on how to add colors and scents to your homemade playdough so I decided to take the opportunity to experiment with some of the different ideas I’d found.
This is a picture of the playdough I made for Jessica the other day. I made the yellow playdough using yellow food coloring and a tablespoon of lemon extract. It turned out perfect!! (Adding the extract and the food coloring before putting the saucepan on the stove eye seemed to work the best.) The “sea green” color was supposed to be a wintery, minty blue, but I think I should have added a little more blue food coloring. I also added a couple tablespoons of vanilla extract. It smells nice, but I don’t think it has as strong of a scent as the lemon extract. There is still a slight “playdough” smell to the “sea green” colored playdough.
Finally, I messed up the colors on one of the batches and ended up with brown, so I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to try the textured coffee playdough!! You just knead coffee granules into it, and the coffee granules add scent and texture to your playdough. Aside from looking like poop, it turned out great! Except….do NOT use instant coffee granules. I should have known better, but I wasn’t thinking about how they would make the playdough more moist and gooey. I am STILL adding flour in an effort to dry it out a bit!!!
There are so many different possibilities that I am anxious to make more playdough!! You can make playdough using KoolAid packets (or jello packets). Although the color is bright and cheerful, I have heard that the smell is not as intense or as long lasting as scenting with extract. (Don’t you think a Pumpkin Pie play dough would be perfect this fall???) I have also been wanting to experiment with using natural dyes to color my play dough. Play dough provides an excellent sensory experience for all children; however, it can be especially helpful for children with sensory processing disorders. Making your play dough textured and edible will add a new dimension to the sensory experience!
David built Jessica a sand/water table for Easter last year, but John prefers playing in our redneck water table!
No, not the song! It’s a game for toddlers! It is super easy to make, and there is little to no sewing involved! It is perfect for giving you an alternative to the infamous Candyland! It can also be great for those kiddos whose attention span might not make it through an entire game of Candyland! (The School Psychologist in me feels compelled to point out that this game also teaches sequencing and self-help skills!)
Jessica and I playing "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time."
To play you simply take turns rolling the dice. You must roll to get a piece of bread first. After you have the bread, you can roll either peanut butter or jelly. Once you have the peanut butter or the jelly, you need to roll for the one you don’t have. Finally, you have to get another piece of bread. Whoever makes their PBJ first wins!
Jessica obviously likes this game and was quite pleased with herself for making her PBJ!
To make your own “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time” game, you will need to make 2 pieces of bread, 1 blob of peanut butter, and 1 blob of jelly for each player. You will also need to make a die. I used some felt I had leftover from other projects, but you could use leftover fabric or even colored foam sheets! I just cut them out in the shape I wanted, but there is a pattern you can download. For the die, I used a piece of David’s scrap wood cut in a cube. Then I glued the felt pieces in place and stitched the edges together. I think you could easily use an old die from another game with a strong glue and skip sewing entirely. I also decided that the bread needed crust so I took a brown sharpie marker to the edges! Here’s a close up of our game pieces:
You can even use the pieces as play food when you aren’t playing the game….how’s that for multi-purposing!!!
I think the last time we had a nice family picture taken was when Jessica was a baby, so it was definitely time for a new one!! We decided not to pay someone to take a professional photo since the odds of us getting a picture with all 4 of us looking nice is pretty slim (especially when 2 of us are 3 years old or younger and both of them don’t know the meaning of the phrase “sit still!”)….besides I’m cheap! We ended up having a friend of mine take the picture in her backyard. We got three pictures, and 3 out of 4 of us looked great in one of the shots! David has an odd look on his face, but both of the kids were smiling (which was miraculous) so that is the one we went with!
I thought it turned out nice! David said we might have to try for another one later….maybe once the kids are a little older…. Also, don’t you just love the kids’ outfits?!?! So cute and classic! My mom found Jessica’s at a consignment shop, and a friend of mine gave us John’s at a shower….cute, yet masculine! I am gearing up to make some adorable summer clothes for the kids…I think John will be getting a few more little rompers using a vintage pattern my mother-in-law gave me!
Oh Wow! That was the first thing out of Jessica’s mouth once we got through the gate at the air show and saw all of the airplanes! We also heard a lot of “airplanes” and “What’s that?!?” We stayed all day (although we got there a little late), and Jessica was quite the trooper! She looked at everything and wanted to go in all the planes! She wore her ear muffs and enjoyed looking through a pair of binoculars (truly an aspiring geek)! We sat down to watch the F-22 and the Thunderbirds towards the end (when she should have been taking a nap), and she did great! You might also notice from the pictures that David got quite red but that Jessica and I did not….we wore sunblock! Here are some pictures from our day:
Proof that I was there (8 months pregnant I might add)!
Jessica wanted to get in every helicopter and plane that we saw!
I think she actually wanted to fly them….
She also had to inspect the underside of every plane and asked “What’s that?!?!” a lot!!!
Using binoculars at an air show make you look cool!
Jessica in her enviably fashionable headgear!
David with his “mini me!”
On a side note, yesterday, some of my friends in the neighborhood came by to get me for a surprise baby shower! They conspired with my husband to take me out to lunch and get our toes done (mine are glittery midnight blue)! They also gave us some cute baby clothes! It was a lot of fun!! Tomorrow we have a baby shower at church so that should be fun as well! Overall, it’s just been an “Oh Wow!” kind of a weekend!!
I have mentioned several times on here that being out in the sun is rather expensive for us. I cheap out on a lot of things, but health related expenses is NEVER one of them! You only get one body, and replacement parts are difficult if not impossible to come by!! I have already shown you pictures of the swimsuits I have bought for Jessica and myself. These swimsuits are Stingrays, an Australian brand, and block over 97.5% of the sun’s rays. I particularly like them because they give the trunk very good coverage. Although women are more likely to develop melanoma on their legs and men on their backs, mine have always been on my back, and I have found that it can be difficult to get sunblock in all of the crevices that exist on the trunk as opposed to the arms and legs.
Recently, I ordered new sunblock. Since Jessica was born, I have been ordering Lavera Neutral Sunscreen Spray. Every sunscreen I have tried makes my skin (my face especially) sting until I scrub it off! Actually, it feels like my face is burning! I do have pretty sensitive skin; however, I think Jessica’s may be even more sensitive than mine. Because this is the only sunscreen I can wear on my face without it stinging, it is the only sunscreen I will use on the kids until they can tell me whether or not a particular sunscreen makes their skin sting. I have actually been using it on Jessica since before she was 6 months old. It was the only sunscreen my mom and I were able to track down that we felt would be gentle enough for her skin, and we have never had a problem! The other awesome thing about it is that it works instantly….no 30 minute waiting period!!
It is also a very “green” sunscreen for those of you interested in that. At this point I just want something that won’t sting my skin and will protect me from UV rays! I tend to use my skin’s sensitivity as a test to how safe or organic a product might be. This year, Lavera had to reformulate all of their sunscreens to match the new, stricter guidelines put out by the EU. The goal was to raise the amount of UVA rays blocked by sunscreen. Typically only the amount of UVB rays blocked are reported. I ended up buying the original version (from a store in Canada because no one else would ship to the USA) because Lavera has not had time to finish reformulating all of their sunscreen products, and I am quite partial to the Lavera Neutral Sunscreen Spray! Lavera has also done an excellent job of trying to block high levels of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays even before the new standards were released, so I feel completely comfortable using their products on myself and my children!
Today Jessica and I decided to go to Lowe’s for our morning outing! I know most people probably don’t see Lowe’s as the place for a child’s morning outing. However, I have discovered that it makes for a fun, free, and educational activity for kids, and your house won’t get dirty!!!
We started out with a ride on a John Deer lawnmower!
Next we tried out all of the patio furniture!
We have discovered that the swings are great fun!
Then we opened all the cabinets in the kitchen section.
….And all of the drawers!
She was quite curious to know what a bidet was!
She also had great fun with the faucets….don’t worry….I explained to her that they are cantilever beams!
She also enjoyed being allowed to play in the toilets….FINALLY!!
We also had to check out the showers!
All of the different colors and textures on the tile samples were quite interesting!
No trip to Lowe’s is complete without a visit to the drawer pulls!!
Finally, on our way out we stopped to rock in the rocking chairs!
Now do you see what I mean about Lowe’s being a fun, free, and educational activity for kids? It is the perfect activity no matter what the weather! How does Lowe’s feel about us turning their store into a playground you ask? Actually, they have been wonderfully accommodating! I frequently have sales representatives stopping to talk to us and telling us about the children’s projects they do on Saturdays!
Lowe’s knows it is in their best interest to be family-friendly. Not only will parents be more likely to make trips to Lowe’s with their children, but when those children grow up, they will remember Lowe’s as the place Mom and Dad went to get all the things they needed for projects around the house! Lowe’s makes a point of investing in the future of DIY projects by teaching people of all ages different skills to help them become more self-sufficient!
Disclaimer: I am not paid in any way to advertise for Lowe’s. I just like our local Lowe’s that much!!!
Jessica loves to play with sidewalk chalk! Unfortunately, she typically decides that she wants to go outside and play with sidewalk chalk either when I am cooking dinner or it is raining! I had bought some chalkboard paint to make her a large board to draw on inside, but I had not gotten around to making it the other day when she wanted to play with sidewalk chalk and we could not go outside. That was when I had a brilliant idea!
She could play with sidewalk chalk on the tile floor!!!
And when she is done, I can wipe up the floor with a wet rag, and it is as good as new!