Growing Out On A Limb

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Inside on a snowy day in February

Lately Oliver is easily occupied with one of two things:  play dough and coloring.  So in between all of the snowy outside fun on the weekend, that’s largely what we did!

I’m really impressed with Oliver’s coloring lately.  Instead of just scribbling over the entire page, he is focusing on smaller areas and doing a really good job at staying in between the lines.  We have some of those giant fold-out coloring pages (Cars, of course) and he will ask for the same one over and over until there is hardly a wait space left.

Then, on Saturday, Oliver started drawing circles.  Better-than-I-expected circles.  When I asked him what they were, he said “eyes”.  Then he drew a big smile.  I asked him about the nose and he added it.  Then I said, “Maybe you could add some legs”.  So he did.

And here is the result.

I don’t know if this is coming early or late, developmentally speaking, but I was pretty much blown away by that little drawing – like over-the-top and in-only-a-way-a-mother-can-understand proud.  Not only is he managing the marker really well, this was the first time he’s drawn something on his own (or at least something that isn’t hiding in a mess of scribbles and that only he can see).

Oh, the small things it takes for a mother to be impressed.  I just love seeing them learn these little things.

Then we have Emery who isn’t using markers yet and who I thought was also too little for play dough, for the simple reason that it would likely end up in his mouth.  But he sat at the table and poked things in and out of this bucket of play dough for an hour or so.  An hour!  So I was pretty impressed by him too.  I think he was mostly quite happy to be playing at the table with Oliver.

And he only tasted it a couple of times.  Yuck … salty!  (Also notice how my four colors of homemade play dough are now one big mountain of grey).

This pic really has nothing to do with Saturday.  I just found it on my camera.  What a goof.

Happy Tuesday!


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Funny Face

Oliver thinks it is hilarious to practice the facial expressions that go with the different emotions, I think because he likes watching mommy and daddy’s faces contort too (yup, he plays us like marionettes sometimes!).

Here we have a happy face (and a crazy-ass hairdo but we’ll work on sitting for a haircut another day)…

Sad faces are hard to do when you really just want to laugh… 

Surprised faces are fun!  

Oh boy … this angry face means business (and makes mommy and daddy make laughing faces)!  

Brian also likes to work on “confused” and “epiphany” but they’re proving to be a bit more difficult.

Oliver points out emotions on the faces of book characters and we do sometimes too.  Sometimes he even puts an emotion on things where there aren’t any, like a truck that has a grill that looks like a smile is happy to him.  I think it’s really good for him to recognize what feelings look like early on – I’m sure it helps him put a face (pardon the pun) on his own emotions, which in turn must help with learning how to process what he’s feeling, self-control, and even how to behave in certain situations.

Sometimes when Oliver is misbehaving and I am speaking firmly to him, he’ll look at me and scrunch his face into his angry pose because he recognizes that emotion in my face.

It’s all I can do to not laugh in the moment.

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Pipe Cleaner Strainer

I love love love coming across the simplest of play ideas.

I’m happy when they involve cheap dollar store supplies and/or ordinary household items.

I’m even happier when they are successful and keep Oliver busy for a while.

I saw this one on pinterest recently (but didn’t actually pin it so not sure who to acknowledge it to, sorry).  It involves nothing more than a strainer and pipe cleaners and then just letting them go.  Free play.

When he was all done he proudly picked up the strainer and brought it to me like it was a piece of art.

And it was!


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Oliver loves to get out the paints and get messy! 

It was a bit of a gamble given his sleep-deprived mood but yesterday we setup and went to painting.  I’ve been thinking he might like stamping so I got out a few I had purchased.  I also tried something I’ve seen on many crafty children’s blogs… potato stamps! 

I’ve been trying to talk a lot about colors and shapes lately so I decided on a triangle, circle, star, and a square. 

He kept asking for the shapes in certain colors but it was still a little early for his little hands.  He liked them but it was too hard for him to sit the stamp down and pull it up cleanly, without smudging it all over the paper.  It was still fun to try but we ended up doing some painting with q-tips and brushes too. 

I love that he’s recognizing many colors and asking for them by name.  My favorite pronunciation is purple… it kind of comes out “peeple”.

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My Little Helper

Lately, Oliver has been really excited to play in the sink.  He comes running nearly everytime he notices the water is running.  Sometimes I have to shoo him away but if I can, I let him do the dishes with me.  By “do the dishes” I mean filling and dumping the same cup while occasionally moving washed dishes back into the dirty dishwasher but hey… he thinks it’s fun, we can do it together, and it only amounts to a wet t-shirt.  So why not? 



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Playtime in the “sand”

I’ve seen this idea around the blogosphere more than once, using different mediums:  flour, sugar, even snow.  It seemed like such a great idea for inspiring creativity.  Then today’s post at I am Momma, Hear Me Roar! reminded me of the idea (only she used pudding – how brave!). 

We tried cornmeal.  It didn’t stick to his fingers, was easy to vaccuum up, and made a cool gritty sound under the car tires.  Messy?  Yeah, a bit.  Did he dump the tray in the end while I wasn’t looking?  You betcha.  Did I mind?  Nah, not even a little bit because he sat there entertained by the “sand” for a half hour and thought it was great fun.  We made tracks with the cars and trains, made them “crash”, and made trails and shapes with our fingers. 

It is definitely a quick and frugal idea that you can spin a million different ways. 

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Toddler Teasers

I know I am not alone here – about 6 months ago my cute, sweet toddler decided that diaper changes and dressing should go from a time for smiles, tickling, and belly berries to a tantrum of screaming, flailing arms, and kicking legs.  Try wrapping a diaper around that. 

We tried all forms of distraction … toys, books, singing, changing while standing up.  They all worked for a short while but it quickly went back to something like wrapping a pig in a blanket – a greasy, squirming, squealing pig. 

Enter Toddler Teasers, a set of apps for the ipod.  There are several to choose from but we started with the transportation game and moved to the ABCs and 123s when we realized Oliver was catching on to them.  They present 4 or 5 options and ask the child to “touch the eight” or “touch the bicycle”, depending on which app you are using.  He loves the cheering and clapping after he touches the right one. 

Now diaper changes mean he’s going to play the “game” so he’s happy to lay down while I do the dirty work.  And I’m happy that he’s exercising his brain every time he does.  (And he knows that the ipod is only for changing so gives it up easily… most times). 

I also love that there are more apps to download as he learns more and more.  Next up … colors! 

Image from here