Scooping and Pouring Stations Activities

It’s the simple things in life that seem to bring lots of smiles and laughter to our mummy and son days together. From spending approximately 18 years of my life in office jobs to now nearly 40 years old being a kid again so to speak playing with my active toddler I can honestly say it feels like the best time of my life as a stay at home working mumma.  Of course  I accept my exhausted parent status happily because it’s worth seeing my little human giddy with laughter and I know there will come a day he won’t want to hang out with me anymore.

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I try to make my days with Jay as enjoyable as possible. It’s not always easy as sometimes you have to drum up the energy and hope for the best.  Yes it’s mandatory that we go to the park daily and sit on the same swings and slide down the same slide but we also do different activities. I don’t know if he will remember so I’m writing this as a record so that Jay when you read this when you’re old enough to understand you will know that I tried to make your days fun.

POURING STATION 

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Setting up activities for my son is my nirvana. I love seeing his face as I bring out something new or lay tables with materials whether it be for an arts and crafts project or baking for instance.  Recently I decided to arrange a water pouring station for my boy.  It took little time to be honest, I grabbed a few containers funnels, jugs, measuring cups, plastic cups and filled the large container which we use for his toys with water from the garden tap.  I didn’t have any food colouring so I added a few drops of his washable paint to the water. The colander was a winner.

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I sort of wish we could do this daily and I think the garden is a great place for this. This particular afternoon we basked in warm sunshine which seemed to add to the excitement. I tried to get my non compliant toddler to wear his summer hat but he wasn’t having any of it however he did agree to let me SPF 50 him!

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 SCOOPING STATION (with no ice-cream in sight)

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I figured if he was having so much fun with water why not try dry matter. This however caused a dilemma as Mr M rightly pointed out there is some food waste which is generally a no no.  I would say to perhaps use ingredients in small quantities to lessen the guilt.  We used pasta, rice, flour, cornflakes, kernels, mini shreddies but I guess the list is endless it’s whatever you have but always keep a watchful eye if you are using ingredients that may cause choking. Jay’s never been one to put objects into his mouth but I am there when he is scooping just to be sure.  Once all the containers are prepared the same process applies… let them at it!

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It’s a great activity for their motor skills. Pouring and scooping is about discovery and exploration of gravity, weight, muscle control, cause and effect, and self-awareness. The downside is all that clearing up after but it’s something I am happy to run with as like I’ve said it is these moments that I will remember and treasure.

What activities do you enjoy with your little humans?

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

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25 Months

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It’s quite fascinating to see the changes in a toddler’s development month by month. But quite frequently I go back to remembering my son as a newborn holding him during the night feeds for 2 sometimes 3 hours and waiting for him to throw up as he did pretty much with the reflux misery we endured daily. I also remember the nicer times where he would just look into my eyes with his body in a white sleep suit  and I would sit wondering what was going on inside his baby mind. Those days nights and months have rolled on and now at 25 months my Jay bird is a young boy following me everywhere and calling me “The Mummy” constantly reminding me how much I am needed and loved.
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We sure have a chatterbox on our hands with lots of cute mistakes! you may have heard of the gorgeous little book Foxes Socks which I actually now know word for word.  Jay hasn’t quite mastered the word Foxes but let’s just say he does try even though it does sound like the ‘F’ word!  It’s lovely to see him try to talk to us connecting words and now that he has an understanding of certain commands like “Please can you get your shoes and coat” and “Let’s put ALL of your toys away” (well that one is work in progress) it does get slightly easier with that help. He’s a huge fan of colours, shapes and numbers and likes going through the alphabet with me. He sometimes pronounces ‘Z’ the American way so I have to shake my fist at YouTube and search for the UK Alphabet versions. As he isn’t in nursery I make sure we spend time in the day on activities that will encourage him to learn.  We go to the library twice a week and I think the weekly nursery rhyme classes there have really helped him as I can often hear him singing at home while he is playing.
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Toddlers my goodness do they have an abundance of energy.  But when your son eats like a bird I really don’t know where all of his energy comes from. His relationship with food has improved slightly but he’s still not much of a foodie which is a daily struggle but I’m much better at handling it than previously. May be it will change in the years to come and he will have a huge appetite like his father (and mother) or I might be stuck on the same record! He has grown in height and is currently 90cm very much slimline.  So Speedy Jay Gonzalez certainly keeps me on my running toes and has been doing this for months now. He is fast like really fast not always good when he decides to run off in the park as I’m left with his toddler carriage and bags to catch him and he thinks we are playing. Recently he did a great escape which resulted in me falling in a muddy field highly embarrassing for “The Mummy” especially when she left the water wipes at home and had an army paint look about my face with all but one tiny tissue.  I definitely got some weird looks as I walked home. But for Jay it was all very funny.  At home daily we have music playing on from all sorts of genres.  Fridays we go into Club mode.  Dancing is something he enjoys and he fortunately for me he loves listening to the same music as mummy (Progressive Trance mainly). I can see a potential Ibiza raver in him!
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I read that toddlers sleep an average of twelve hours a day at this age, give or take a few hours and are likely to have a one to two-hour nap each afternoon which is the current order of events. He doesn’t nap beyond 2.30pm and I find he tends to go to sleep by 8pm until 7am.  I say that but we still have some nights when it all goes a bit Pete Tong.  That’s where my MAC Pro Longwear concealer comes to rescue me in the morning. We haven’t yet made the transition from cot to big kid’s bed because I still feel he isn’t ready. But on another topic I have purchased a toilet trainer seat for Jay instead of the potty.  I’m wondering whether I’d be better off waiting until the weather is warmer before we commence the next stage of training as the start of much more cleaning which is inevitable.

unnamed-23Currently household appliances seem to be providing much entertainment for my 25 month old so I’ve had to think of the kiddy versions.  The children’s Dyson ball upright and a washing machine both made by Casdon are his favourite toys. I’m hoping the novelty won’t wear off but chances are they will. He has a toy iron and I might just get him an ironing board and train him up. I find his love for painting continues. Must admit I’m a bit over it now but it’s a daily activity.  He’s all smiles when the paint set comes out while the beige carpet looks up in terror.

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The other day I imagined what he would look like in adult life in his 20s and 30s, would he be wearing a shirt suit and tie to work or in a profession wearing a uniform or an actor perhaps as he’s pretty good at creating dramas already. It seems a long way away but here we are in April 2016 and it only feels like yesterday when I watched the London New Year’s Eve celebrations on TV which was by far my favourite fireworks display so far!

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I swear he was laughing 5 mins ago…

The terrible twos are in full swing and I am trying not to lose it when things spiral out of control. I’ve said this before but I consider myself to be a gentle and patient human being but I’ve really had to grow more patience as some days my little human acts like he’s possessed. No offence Jay!  I know he is at an age where he wants to assert his independence and doesn’t always like being told what to do.  I’ve had to be calm whilst I carry him out of places kicking and screaming. He’s  still a young little thing so I don’t like raising my voice at him, it doesn’t suit me.   I’m amazed how much he understands and I know this is all part of growing up.

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One things for sure l never get really lonely these days with my 25 month old keeping me company. He chatters away and seeks to engage my attention whenever he can. He helps me with the laundry. Rearranges my cupboards and then some more, he loves his kale crisps and does an on the spot dance when he sees me rustling the crisps in a bowl. He takes my hand and holds onto my fingers tightly when we head out for our daily walk. His last two back molars are cutting through so he has wanted extra cuddles.  I do relish this moments as one day it won’t be the same.

Through a particularly difficult month on a personal level I told myself to be grateful for the life I have and the one I helped to create.

Thanks for reading!

Bella

~X~

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Long Haul Travel with a Toddler

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When the subject of visiting my brother 6000 miles away in Orange County, California came up in 2014 I laughed hysterically and quickly dismissed the idea because the thought of taking baby Jay on a plane scared the living daylights out of me.  I hadn’t seen my big brother for 5 years that’s pretty bad considering we get on very well. Then in October 2015 after some major arm and leg twisting the flights were booked.  Jay’s Uncle Buck wanted to meet and hold his nephew rather than look at him via a 2-dimensional Skype format and wanted to show me his home I’d heard so much about.

I was excited about going to California (I would move out there if I could) but the anxiety of planning the whole trip was in full swing.   That “I’ve got so much to do but don’t know where to start feeling.”  This was going to be our first flight as a family of three and a direct flight time of 11 hours to Los Angeles not to mention the travel time in between.  Our outbound flight was was one of the hardest things I’ve done, FACT. Jay cried  right on take off and this continued for 3 hours.  Although I’ve been getting better at not getting flustered in tense situations I was tested to the max. I kept it together for a bit but then sort of fell apart and the mummy tears flowed. Mr M was calm and seemed to be the stronger force but I found it hard seeing young Jay in distress. I knew it was tough going for us as well as the passengers lucky enough to sit next to us. I thought we were going to be asked to leave the plane via parachutes. You may have heard about the John Lewis Tantrum – Gate well it was sort of like that. BUT the passengers looked at me sympathetically.  I still felt awful. To make matters worse Jay was a little sick at one point but thankfully his beloved blanket was saved otherwise it would have been game over. The relief to come off that plane in Los Angeles was immense but then it was a long hour standing in the queue for US Immigration and Customs.  By the time I walked through those arrival doors and saw my brother’s face I was a blubbering mess. A reunion etched in my mind forever.

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I should say the return flight home went perfectly praise the Lord! but I had prepared much better.  Jay was no trouble whatsoever and was a happy boy a complete contrast to the horrors we had previously experienced. Mr M and I even managed to watch some inflight entertainment together drinking plastic cups of vino. Not sure how many.

So how do you stay trapped in an aluminum canister with your sanity intact?

Preparation in advance is paramount. Of course some things do happen out of your control like flight delays and sickness but if you sit down some weeks before your trip and start writing little reminders this will make life a tad easier. I think it’s important to write down or store the details of where you are travelling to as in the flight number, addresses, contact numbers at hand in the event you are required to fill out the visa entry forms. Plus keeping the essential items at hand before they are stowed in the overhead locker. There are plenty of other things you can do.

Check with your Airline before you travel

Go to the airline website and take 5 mins to read their information. An example is checking stroller requirements and the types you can take on board due to limited space. Each airline will have different specifications so best to avoid any unnecessary hassle or you may be asked to check the item in. As you come off the plane always check with staff where you can collect your stroller, buggy as I nearly forgot mine!

Nappy changes

It’s quite a challenge in the tiny toilet space under fluorescent lights, praying for 3 minutes free from turbulence.  I was thankful there wasn’t a nappy poonami to deal with during both flights but that was just luck I think! I kept the nappies, wipes, and cream in a separate bag under the seat. Usually trying to dress Jay is like battling with octopus legs but both Mr M and I managed to get through the nappy changes with little fuss. I did see a flight attendant help a lady who was struggling so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also pack a lot more nappies than you’re likely to need.

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Bassinets

Don’t do what I did which was ask for a Bayonet when booking the flights over the phone! totally different item Bella (*slap on head*) but it did make the woman on the other end of the line literally  LAUGH OUT LOUD.  The bassinet will clip into the wall in front of the bulkhead seats (those with a wall in front of them rather than another row of seats), but the cabin crew won’t be able to install it for you after take-off until the seatbelt sign goes off, for safety reasons. The bassinet is designed for infants up to 8 months old (and weighing a maximum of 11.8kgs/26lbs). Jay’s quite a long toddler and seemed to be ok other than the problem of his feet sticking out of the end but it was still comfy for him as he managed to sleep well.   If the infant is more than 11.8kgs/26lbs or older than 8 months at the time of travel, they may not be able to use the bassinet and you may be moved to allow a suitably aged infant to use the bassinet. The bassinet was great for us as it meant we could put Jay in there for his sleep rather than in our arms. The photo is blurry which is when I also realised my iPhone camera wasn’t working – it wasn’t a good day.

Pack carrier / zip lock style bags 

Ziplock bags and taking extra carrier bags in general are useful for your hand luggage too. Bear in mind you will have to put all liquids over 100ml into a clear bag at security so check nothing like that is left in your hand luggage to avoid further delay.  You may want to keep all medication together like calpol, sachets etc in a clear bag.

Change of Clothes

Absolutely mandatory in my opinion as accidents do happen.  A change of clothing is essential not just for baby/toddler but also for you. A mum who was traveling from London to Auckland sitting a few rows behind us was dealing with her sick 13 month old and she didn’t have a change of clothing after her son threw up on her. I offered a t-shirt  but it was too small. She ended up wearing her husband’s shirt. Not sure what he ended up wearing! I took 3 muslin cloths too which were very necessary in our case. As we were taking a late afternoon flight to Los Angeles I changed Jay into his pyjamas before boarding the plane and also took additional warm clothing  as it can get a bit chilly with the aircon.

Food

Sods law my bag was selected to be open and all food was then meticulously inspected. Fair enough that’s part of the security process but it did cut into my ‘let’s sit down and relax time.’ Remember to check you have sealed food pouches.  You can actually pre-order baby/toddler food to collect at the airport in places like Boots The Chemist for instance.  I  didn’t do this because I had already purchased mine. I did take a sealed tin of formula which I then opened on the plane.  I packed plenty of biscuits, snacks and crisps. I fed Jay his dinner before we got on the plane and attempted to give him his milk feed on the plane  which didn’t work well as he was distracted by all that was happening around him. I’m sure that is not the case for all children and breast feeding and bottlefeeding your baby on take-off may soothe them and prevent ear pain. Sugar-free lollipops are good for older toddlers.  Check your meal requirements with your travel agent at the time of booking or at least 24 hours prior to your departure. Jay did eat from our meals and didn’t go for his child’s meal. Where possible, the cabin crew serve children’s meals before serving adults, so you can feed your child before relaxing and enjoying your own. I would also remind the staff that you have a child meal ordered as they can often miss it. They can also provide warm water to make milk feeds as and when you need it.

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Toys

Never underestimate the power of a new toy. I bought a couple of new distractions presented to Jay which worked wonders. I didn’t bring out all the toys at once but timed it. Sticker books, and a no mess colouring book with a water pen were a hit. We avoided toys which had lots of pieces. Of course the Electronic babysitter our iNanny aka iPad was taking care of Jay and we stocked up big time downloading games, CBeebies episodes on the iplayer as well as YouTube vids prior to flying. Give yourself some time to do this don’t think it will all happen quickly. Just make sure it’s charged! We used an App called Downloads Lite to help make the process easier. The area at the back of the plane was made use of where the air stewards let Jay play and helped pass some of the time.

Kids Activity Packs

Some Airlines have Kids packs available to keep the little ones occupied and some go even further like Etihad Airways which has a dedicated sky-nanny/nursery on board for some flights,  great if you can get them!

Switch to Local Time

Nothing worse than having a baby/toddler with you who wants to sleep all day and play all night because their time zones are messed up. We changed our watched to the local time straight away unless you are only travelling with an hour or so difference.

I hope these survival tips help to make your flight just that little bit easier. Mentally prepare yourself before you go. It will be long, it will be tiring, they might not sleep. I know I didn’t. Yes it is a pain when  the ‘put on your seat belt’ sign is switched on frequently and you have a toddler wanting to jump off your lap and run like a loony down the aisle.

Long hideous flights, like labour, will eventually be over too.

Good luck if you are travelling with your little humans soon!

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Bella

~X~