Category Archives: 1- to 2-year-old

Painting with Yogurt: the sequel


When Snuggly Man wakes up from his afternoon nap, he is in a bit of a cuddly funk until he has had a snack and finished waking up. During one of these late afternoon slumps, Pen Elaine and I decided it was the perfect time for some messy color and tactile exploration! We had a throwback activity: yogurt painting. This was one of Pen Elaine’s favorite activities when she was this age, so check out the old pics to see how much my kids look alike ūüôā All you need is a muffin tin, yogurt, and food coloring – plus a spoon and/or a paintbrush if you want! This is a fun activity, great for practice with fingers and fine motor skills, plus exploration with textures and colors.

Of course, this time around, I had a big helper to drop in the food coloring and create colors by mixing different drops. We would put in¬†drops of red and blue and then wait until we swirled in the yogurt to discover what color resulted – it was very exciting. Pen Elaine loved helping make and mix colors – and overseeing the exploration process. Snuggly Man (and Pen Elaine)¬†loved touching and eating the “paints.” The end result was a huge mess, of course, but easily wiped up with a damp cloth!


Oh, and here’s this adorable toddler enjoying some attention in his high chair ūüôā

This is Snuggly Man showing us the birds outside. Our bird feeder and bird bath outside the kitchen window provide continual entertainment and excitement. Snuggly Man loves being able to copy the rest of us by pointing¬†out the window to direct our attention! It’s so cute!!!


Pen Elaine’s Mommy’s most favorite book…this week


IMG_0161.PNGThis book is so sweet in an unexpected way. I have¬†unintentionally become a big fan of Jane Yolen, and¬†How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? is a delightful picture book written by her and Mark Teague.¬†I discovered it at the library probably a year ago or more, but it is still on my love list for a mom of a toddler. Pen Elaine likes the funny scenarios that feature dinosaurs misbehaving, like a 2-year-old would. There’s a comedy of proportions since a dinosaur is very large to be acting like a toddler. Plus, Pen Elaine, as a 3-and-a-half-year-old, wanted me to read the scientific names of each featured dinosaur, written in small print on each page. The illustrations are completely captivating, for both of us.

The endearing part that makes me love this book, though, is that the authors somehow capture exactly the frustrations of parenting a “terrible two” while also pointing out the sweet vulnerability and moments to treasure and cuddle these pint-sized humans figuring out how to navigate the world and express their feelings. From being a messy eater, overflowing the bathroom sink, to tantrums and moodiness, this book reminds parents to¬†focus on the other moments of unabashed affection, trying to be helpful, and those cute little faces.¬†Reading this book encouraged me to have a little more patience and a little more perspective on handling and loving my toddler/preschooler. When I finish reading it, I have to steal snuggles from my little one every time.

Mommy & Me Class: Colors & Numbers



This week involved Noah’s Ark, trusting in God’s promises, as we practice numbers and colors with several fun activities involving simple things you can mostly find around the house.

Craft/Activity #1: Rainbow Sticky Wall Art inspired by mamapapabubba

This first art project is super simple – good, old sticky wall art simply requires a piece of contact paper taped to a wall (at kid-level) with the sticky side facing out. Then, your kiddo gets to stick paper or whatever small items you own to the sticky paper, and an instant mural is born! For our rainbow wall art, we just cut a strip from a pack of multi-colored tissue paper for kids to tear or crumble and place on the wall in whatever pattern. However, if you want to get fancy, you could draw lines on or behind your contact paper in the shape of a rainbow and even use cotton balls for clouds at either end.




Craft/Activity #2: Cupcake liner Owls by KidsActivitiesBlog

This was an activity I found that can be used for counting by twos – like two owls, two feet, two eyes, two wings, or even by threes – two claws/toes per foot. These can also be fun puppets for those of us who want to simply do some role play or put on plays.

Supplies: cupcake liner, orange paper cut into 2 circles (eyes), triangle (nose), and 2 feet

Fold sides in until they meet, then fold top “third” down to form face. Glue on your body parts and then color what’s left, to your artistic flair.


Craft/Activity #3: DIY Color by Number with a painted dice

This was inspired by a “Birthday Bear” that someone gave us, where you had a spinner that landed on a number that corresponded with a color, and you colored the part of the bear with the color that was assigned to the number on which the spinner landed…sounds confusing, but it’s not…sorry. This is a great way to practice numbers and colors at the same time!

Supplies: wooden block, paints in 6 different colors (one for each side), paintbrush, paper or picture with numbers written on the various parts to color

After painting a different color on each side of a six-sided dice, we wrote a number (1 through 6) on each side. Now, on a coloring sheet, you could write numbers on the various spaces, or you could draw a simple outline picture on blank paper (such as the rainbow below) and write numbers (1 through 6) in each section to color.

To make it a game, you could take turns with your kiddo rolling the dice and coloring a section each time.




Story Recommendation: Noah’s Ark

Song Recommendation: Two by Two/Who built the Ark?

Easy Toddler Activity: Bath time for little animals



I’m still learning how to manage a toddler and a nursing infant without screentime, but here is one of our recent activities with no setup time but lots of entertainment time!

Pen Elaine went through a major animals/noah’s ark phase in which all our oodles of¬†accumulated “little people” animals, gifts and hand-me-downs,¬†have been out and about – lined up on the fireplace or stuffed in Noah’s ark or piled in a jungle train, etc. I remembered hearing someone talk about keeping their toddlers entertained by just letting them play in a sink of water, and I also know how much Pen Elaine loves using the spray nozzle at the kitchen sink (as much as I try to stifle that urge) when helping me wash produce. So, I realized she would be thrilled to “wash” her little, plastic animals to her heart’s delight at the kitchen sink…so that I could not closely supervise while nursing and changing my Snuggly Man.


We got her setup with all the plastic animals on one side of the sink, within reach of the spray nozzle. We also laid out a towel for animals to sit and dry after being washed, AND the most helpful thing I did was put on her craft smock that kept her clothes reasonably dry…we may have just had to change her shirt due to wet sleeves. A towel draped over the front of the sink helped keep the floor and her stool/chair dry, also.

Believe it or not, I actually had to make her stop washing animals – she wanted to keep going after 30 or more minutes, but it was getting to be dinner time!


My little cutie is just so adorable in her apron and a ponytail!


Pen Elaine’s Most Favorite Book…New baby sibling edition!



Getting ready for baby brother, we have been reading an assortment of books about having a new baby in the house! Here’s some of our favorites:



The Berenstain Bears’ New Baby by Stan & Jan Berenstain
This one touches on growing up and the fun of having a big kid bed.





101 Things to do with a Baby by Jan Ormerod
This one is a really fun read, mostly due to the funny ideas and great illustrations. On each reading, I notice a new funny expression that I hasn’t noticed on the baby or the dad or some insightful display of emotion on the big sister. This is a sweet book to give ideas for ways to bond as siblings.




Best Kind of Baby by Kate Laing, illustrated by R.W. Alley
This is a great one for younger readers, being about a toddler becoming a big sister, and the jokes are perfect for that age group. My 2.5-year-old and I had some laughs over remembering parts of the story and questioning whether our new baby was going be a baby monkey or baby mouse or baby puppy, etc., when he is born!




Little Rabbit’s New Baby by Harry Horse
This is a cute one about the joys and also trials of having a new, sometimes fussy baby in the house…and how an older sibling can help.

I also plan on checking out this list by mylittlebookcase!


Reading together is a great way to open up opportunities for discussion, even with a 2-and-a-half-year-old! Books open her mind to new possibilities and exploring the unknown. When we read together, we both think of questions that we’d like to ask each other. Pen Elaine is very inquisitive, and most all toddlers and preschoolers go through a very long “why” phase of wanting to understand how the world works. Reading a variety of books together helps encourage and develop curiosity and creativity and school preparedness. Reading together, just like eating dinner together as a family, is a way to promote success in school, teaching your child that they are loved and valued by the time you give to them, time where they can listen and also be heard. Reading is a time to snuggle and have safe touch, important for all areas of development in a young individual.

Advent Activity: Salt Dough (part 1)



20131209-114014.jpgCan I just tell you how much fun it is to watch a 2.5-year-old struggle and work at opening a well-wrapped present? She gets me or my Honey to get it started for her, and then she pulls out her determined face and focuses all of her attention and effort and revealing the surprise inside the wrapping. This time, the fruit of her labor was a container of salt…

The salt¬†was for our advent activity of making salt dough handprints/ornaments and my very¬†first attempt/experiment with making salt dough…in my memory.



Of course, my little kitchen helper was completely pumped and on-board about making/mixing something in the kitchen. She is ready to put on her apron and pull up a chair to the kitchen counter. I pull out a big bowl, and she’s ready to dump anything I put in her reach. She even gets to empty out the last of the salt container. I used the recipe my sister has used, from theimaginationtree¬†(1 cup salt, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water…and some drops of food coloring).¬†Pen Elaine mixes and mixes and adds some food coloring, carefully supervised. I ended up mixing it the rest of the way with my hands, more like kneading it, to get it completely smooth.

20131209-114041.jpgThen, I laid out some sheets of wax paper for making handprints. I started with a ball of “dough.” Pen Elaine and I flattened it gently, and she firmly pressed her hand into it with my help – my Honey documented our efforts. After a handprint was done, I put it out of reach and stuck part of a straw into it for later being able to string through some ribbon for hanging purposes. After one or two handprints, Pen Elaine had fun just pushing fingers and straw pieces into a ball of dough, but then she actually requested doing more handprints. I thought three was enough for this time, and then she and my Honey made a couple “candy canes” and a snowman. I pulled out some pearl sprinkles for his buttons.


To bake, I preheated the oven to 210, according to theimaginationtree, and baked for 2 hours. I baked them on top of wax paper, on top of aluminum foil, on top of the cookie sheet, just to make sure no mess in the form of salt dough “concrete” got stuck to the baking sheet. After getting them out of the oven,¬†they still didn’t seem rock solid, so I let them sit out for several days to make sure they are not going to break.

Now, my plan is actually to paint these to be like Nativity animals, idea from planetoftheapels…that will be part 2…when I get to it…

Quick advent activity: “Gingerbread” house


Gingerbread house @Whimsyinlove


We get squeamish when it gets the least bit icy outside, and we’ve been extra precautious when it comes to getting out in the cold lately, so that we do not have any illness before our trip to see family and my sister’s graduation. Thus, we skipped out on our planned activity of a local, outdoor Christmas festivity that we normally love attending every year¬† – with animals and a living Nativity and hayrides and cookies, and lots of lights, etc. Then, our alternative was a life-sized gingerbread house, but after starting the drive there, decided it was too risky for ice and turned back home, much to the disappointment of our 2.5-year-old, Pen Elaine, who acted completely crushed. However, her chagrin turned to excitement at the mention of using marshmallows to make our own gingerbread house…thus I came up with an impromptu gingerbread house making plan, knowing that we had just bought graham crackers and that I had a tub of icing in reserve for a holiday occasion such as this!

Supplies I gathered: (first, wax paper as a table topper on which to set and build everything)


graham crackers

icing with plastic knives

sprinkles! (I had a bit of holly sprinkles from last year, plus chocolate and plain red ones) – I put these in little accessible bowls with tiny spoons

candy-coated chocolate pieces (like m&m’s)

mini marshmallows

these animal-cracker-like-cookies that were in the shapes of letters and numbers

20131209-113633.jpgMy Honey did the basic structure-building, using icing and graham crackers, so that we could pile on sprinkles and candies, with plenty of intermittent marshmallow-eating by Pen Elaine. She poured on sprinkles with the tiny spoon until we stepped in and encouraged some other decorating supplies…but it was clearly a hit and very fun. We got a little creative when my Honey built a dog house, and thus they put together a pseudo-dog with the shaped crackers. I tried making a little person with the shaped letters, stuck with icing to a flat piece of graham cracker. I think it turned out pretty cute and colorful, but mostly, it was extreme Christmas joy and magic for our toddler (and me, those shaped crackers dipped in icing were very tasty)!