Monday, April 14, 2014

Easy Springtime Toddler Craft - Sun Catchers! (And it's great for older kids, too!)

Lucas calls them flowers. Don't tell him I called them sun catchers.

The words "easy" and "toddler craft" don't often go together. Especially if your toddler is one or just barely two years old. Glue and glitter are pretty much out unless you want to be cleaning for the next week, and you can definitely rule out anything complicated like model building or, I don't know, wood carving. When you add in the fact that my toddler doesn't particularly like finger painting, you're pretty much just left with stickers and coloring.

I actually remember doing this craft as a child and thinking it was completely amazing. But I was also easily impressed. Still, your kid will probably like it, too.

Here's what you need:

- Markers (make sure you use the washable ones, and not just because you don't want your child to write on the wall in sharpie.)
- Coffee filters (it's easier for young kids if you flatten them out with your hands or a heavy book first.)
- Water in a cup (that's really two things, but it only gets one line. Too bad.)

1. Hand your child a coffee filter and some markers, and let them go wild.

2. When the masterpiece is complete...

...fold the coffee filter in half, then in half again, then in half again, then in half again (four folds total) so that it looks like this:

3. Put about half an inch of water in the bottom of a cup. Then stick the folded-up coffee filter into the water, pointy side down.

4. Watch! The water will slowly move up the coffee filter, causing the marker to "bleed" upwards. Your older child will probably like watching this process. Your younger child may want to drink the water. So don't leave them alone with the cup. Lucas wasn't particularly interested in this step (besides wanting to drink the colored water,) so I just let him color another coffee filter while this was going on.

5. When the water and color have reached the top of the filter (or when you're too impatient to wait anymore because it seems like it's never going to get the whole way to the edge,) take the filter out of the water. Shake it a few times over the cup to get those last few drops of water off of the tip.

6. Unfold the filter and let it dry by either hanging it up somewhere with a clothes pin or laying it flat on some paper towels. (It should dry quickly either way.)

7. Ta da!! Hang your masterpiece up in a sunny window!

Older kids can experiment with different colors and patterns, and when younger kids get bored of the coffee filters, they can... color on the wall. (Bonus: washable markers come off of the wall more easily than crayons do. Not that I would know from experience...)

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Things I've Said as a Parent...

...that I never thought I'd have to say. To anyone. Ever.

"Lawnmowers don't have hands."

"Please don't color on your face."

"Ok, you can take the lint roller to bed."

"No, Lucas, your peas are not lotion."

"Yes, we can go potty together."

"We don't eat paper towels."

"Please stop jumping on me."

"You have fish in your hair."

"Gross! Don't lick my feet!"

What's something you've said as a parent that you never thought would come out of your mouth?

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

The one in which I traveled alone with a toddler, Part 2

Ok, so if you haven't read part one of this story yet, stop right now and go read it. I mean it! Why are you still reading this??

To recap, I had flown alone with a toddler who hadn't napped on a flight that was delayed three hours, and then I took a very bumpy bus ride that almost made me barf. Now that we're all caught up... 

We made it to my granddaddy's place around 3:00pm ish (two hours after nap time, which made me decide to just skip it altogether,) and fortunately Lucas was very entertained by my family so that he wasn't too much of a disaster. All things considered, the evening was fun and even (almost) relaxing. I'm going to kind of gloss over that part, though, because "and then we all had a pleasant time" doesn't make for a very interesting story. Instead I'll just show you this picture of my granddaddy holding Lucas.

I got my granddaddy the Christmas tree hat.
Because I give awesomely random gifts.
After dinner and some more family time, my brother Jeremy drove Lucas and me to the hotel, where we had booked a suite so that Jeremy and I could sit up talking after Lucas's 8pm bedtime. Lucas's lack of nap finally caught up with him during the drive, and he fell asleep in about thirty seconds. And then woke up and screamed when I took him out of the car, through the check-in process, and until I finally got him into bed.

When he was finally asleep again, Jeremy and I sat in the kitchen area of the hotel suite talking and eating all of the Christmas cookies I'd brought with me. It was great to spend time with my brother, and it was very relaxing... until Lucas woke up crying around 10pm. I went in to the room just in time to see him throw up all over his pillow and new Christmas pajamas. I took him out of the pack and play, and he threw up all over me. And the floor. And into the sink. And the bathtub. After about ten minutes, he finally stopped vomiting, and I perched on the edge of the bathtub, covered in puke and rocking a naked, crying toddler wrapped in a bath towel, while my wonderful brother tried to clean up all of the vomit. (Naturally, the next day was Christmas, which was the one day that the hotel would not have housekeeping service so the hotel staff could spend Christmas with their families. It's a great policy, but Lucas's timing was really unfortunate.)

I was obviously concerned that Lucas was sick, but once he was done throwing up, he was happy and wanted to play. So we chalked it up to eating unfamiliar food and being off of his schedule, and we hoped that the next morning would prove us right (and would go a little more smoothly.)

The cherry on top of the evening was that even though my period wasn't due for a few more days, I'd been having cramps for a three days, so when I finally managed to fall asleep that night, I did so with the knowledge that I'd probably wake up feeling pretty miserable the next morning. (You'd think I'd feel awkward about sharing that, but it's much less uncomfortable than the things I told you about recovering from a c-section. I'm like a treasure trove of overshares.)

Christmas morning, Lucas was wide awake (and fortunately not at all sick) by 5:45am. My period still hadn't arrived (see? So many overshares.) so I decided to take the pregnancy test I'd thrown into my suitcase at the last minute.

It was positive.

And as I stood there at 6am on Christmas morning, with a wide-awake toddler, in a room that still smelled like vomit, staring at a positive pregnancy test, I happened to glance at the test's wrapper and notice the expiration date... which had passed ten months earlier.

I spent the rest of the day half awake, trying to focus on celebrating Christmas with my family while surreptitiously Googling variations of the phrase "accuracy of expired pregnancy tests" on my phone when no one was looking. I didn't want to call Dan and say "Merry Christmas! I'm pregnant!" if it turned out that I wasn't, but I was also pretty sure that I shouldn't take my aunt up on her offer of a glass of wine at Christmas dinner that night. I briefly considered confiding in my brother or my parents, but I figured that my husband should know before they did... and that I should know for sure first, too.

It wasn't until the next day (after a three-hour car ride with my brother to his house, during which I almost blurted out "I'm pregnant... maybe" 8,347 times) that I managed to sneak away from my family long enough to pick up a box of (non-expired) pregnancy tests.

I was planning to wait and test the next morning, but when I went upstairs to put Lucas to bed in my brother and sister-in-law's guest room, I realized I couldn't wait. So I took a test. And it was positive! For about two minutes, I argued with myself about waiting to tell Dan in person in two days or telling him by phone right now. Then because I'm awful at making decisions, I decided to force him to deciding for me (without him knowing it.) So I sent him a text that said "I got one more Christmas present for you, and I can't decide if I should wait until you're here to surprise you with it or send you a picture of it now." He responded with "Picture!" So I sent him a picture of the pregnancy test next to this onesie (which I had also shoved in my suitcase):

I bought it here, and it says "Dad's Co-pilot,"
which only makes sense if you know that Dan has his private pilot's license

He immediately called me, of course, and after we had a mini celebration by phone (and a brief moment of "what are we getting ourselves into?") and I told him the whole expired pregnancy test story, he gave me the go ahead to tell my family.

As soon as I got off the phone and put Lucas to bed, I went downstairs and showed my family the onesie, and we all squealed together (well, minus my brother and dad, who aren't really squealers. Actually, my mom and sister aren't really, either. Maybe I'm the only one who squealed. It's hard to say.)

So... that's how I found out I was pregnant with baby number two. "In a hotel room that smelled like puke using an expired pregnancy test" isn't exactly the most sophisticated "and that's how I found out I was going to be your mommy" story to share with my child someday, but it's the only one I've got. And just in case anyone found this post by doing a search for the phrase "how accurate is an expired pregnancy test," apparently an expired test is more likely to give a false negative than a false positive. Just so you know.

The rest of the trip (and the flight home, which was delayed to the point that we were going to miss our connecting flight, so they had to move us to a much later flight, but then we were able to get on an early flight on standby because we were super nice to a Delta employee who thought Lucas was adorable, of course) was an adventure, too, but I may or may not get around to writing about it (especially because I just summed it up right now.) Lucas also got a cold, which was pretty miserable, and I wrote more about that part of the trip here.

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