Tag 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 🙂 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 🙂

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.

A First Birthday Party in Neverland!



Snuggly Man turned 1!

I had been secretly “pinning” Neverland party ideas for a while, which turned out to be very fitting since Snuggly Man never wants to grow up and is still in denial about reaching that first year milestone…he refuses any of our attempts to coax him into taking a step, still loves to be held and snuggled, cheek-to-cheek, while sucking his thumb, at all times of day. He has made the full transition to “big boy milk” with minimal protests.

Little boys should never be sent to bed – they always wake up a day older…Peter Pan

Having a Neverland theme was also just what we wanted because we got to include mustaches and pirates, Indians and a teepee, ships and a plank to walk, fairies and a friendly crocodile, all within our “theme.” I’m not good at sticking to one theme, so having an all-inclusive one was great fun. Since this was a first birthday, with more adults than kids, we got to go big for decorations and impact with just a few activities to keep the “big kids” occupied and happy. My Honey and I had a lot of fun making our Neverland dreams come true…all for Snuggly Man and the pictures.


To turn our house into Never-neverland, we printed out a nostalgic map with the various corners of this imaginary island and got inspired about which hangouts to create.

1. Map on display (printed from a google search)


2. The Lost Boys’ Secret Hangout (Hangman’s Tree)

I thought this looked amazing – my Honey used his skills to tape down “puffs” of a green patterned wrapping paper I bought at Hobby Lobby’s after-Christmas sale, then hung brown crepe paper in the doorway, so we could actually “enter” the secret hideout of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys inside “hangman’s tree.”




3. Indian Camp Teepee

For this, we followed the simple instructions for ThrifyAndChic’s $7 diy teepee – it was simple, easy, and cheap! Plus, it looked really cool, was fun for the kids, and we still get to enjoy it.

Basically, my Honey bought a long PVC pipe, sawed it into thirds, spray painted it brown (with paint for plastic), drilled two holes in the top of each, then wound and cris-crossed rope through them to keep them together on one end. Then, my part, I cut three triangles of fabric with the top corners cut off, after getting a rough estimate of length and height from setting up the poles in a teepee shape, and sewed them all together, along with extra seams to make slits for each pole. I also cut and seamed a slit in the middle of one side for a doorway.

Pen Elaine is opening her “pirate booty” party favor inside the teepee 🙂


4. First Birthday Mantel

Of course, I strung up Snuggly Man’s month-by-month photos from the first year, so we could gasp and coo at how he had changed so much and how cute he is 🙂 (Actually I had two of his 10-month photos at the last 2 spots, since there was no 11-month posed photo in existence.) He is picture in all of his photos with a model ship (except for his 3 month photo…) that my Honey ordered online before he was born, for Snuggly Man’s “Old Man and the Sea” bedroom, so that is on the mantel. Along with a painting by my Honey of a ship crewed by lions; he painted a picture of a ship (crewed by foxes) for Pen Elaine. Finally, I hung two stars from an empty frame, for the mantel, so guests could

Follow the second star to the right and straight on til morning!


5. Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship

For a Pirate Cove at the party, we hung a pirate birthday banner that we own, plus taped up a pirate ship cut from packing paper. I printed off Captain Hook coloring pages that kids got to color and tape to the pirate ship. Of course, what made to most impact was Captain Hook himself in attendance!


6. Window Art: Peter Pan & Wendy Cameos and Quote

I wanted to paint something on my glass window that currently hangs by our kitchen table that would work for Snuggly Man’s birthday party but could also last through Valentine’s Day…I was being realistic about when I would get around to repainting it. So, I used this really sweet quote I saw in Anthropologie’s catalogue and added silhouettes of Peter Pan and Wendy. To make the cameos, I pulled up a googled image on a tablet, then placed it behind the window (laying flat on a table) so I could trace them with a chalk marker, then fill it in with craft paint. The quote and decorations were all with craft paint as well.


6. Birthday Banner

For Pen Elaine’s first birthday, I made a glittery, dainty, beautiful birthday banner that gets pulled out every year, multiple times, but it definitely looks like a “girl” birthday banner. So, I felt Snuggly Man deserved a birthday “boy” banner that could be used every year, but was especially made for him. First, I pulled out some old ready-made muslin flags I had picked up on super sale from Hobby Lobby and realized I was one letter short from being able to make a Happy Birthday banner using only those. Plus, they were extra small in size and would be hard to see 🙂 So, I bought some more ready-cut pennant flags from the same material and painted the letters to spell Happy Birthday on the larger pennants and drew little chevron stripes on the alternating, little pennants. I feel like it fit the Neverland/Lost Boys theme but can also be used for any boy birthday theme in the future.



For Snuggly Man’s first birthday party that included a few friends and mostly family, I opted for invitations of 2015 – “evites.” These are not as cutesy as paper invitations, but Snuggly Man is a boy, and he is one, so I think he is good with evites. Plus, evites are fantastic because people actually rsvp for them, as opposed to the paper ones that rarely get any rsvp’s – in fact I usually don’t even try to get them when I send paper. Also, I was still able to include cute little sayings about flying off to Neverland for the birthday party. Instead of my family inviting everyone to the party, we went by pseudonyms: Hook, Tigerlily, and Tinkerbell invited everyone for Snuggly Man’s party. “Follow the second star to the right; think happy thoughts and you’re sure to take flight! Wear a costume if you wish or must! Instead of presents, bring faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!”



1. Dress-up Station & Indian headband craft: Since we invited guests to come in costume, I wanted to have costumes and props on-hand for anyone who forgot or couldn’t find anything around their house. So, we included pirate swords and hats, “Lost boy” masks that were really a pack of fox, owl, and raccoon masks I found in the party section of Hobby Lobby (I think they were meant for a forest/woodland creature party). I wanted to buy green fairy wings at the dollar store, but they only had red ones in stock, so we just pulled out a few costume wings we had in our dress-up box and a glittery fox mask for girly options.

I also laid out supplies on a craft table for kids to make “Indian headbands” using brown paper (cut in thirds, horizontally), feathers, crayons and stickers, and cute masking tape. Instead of waiting for glue to dry or glue sticks to work well, I gave them striped/chevron masking tape I had bought for a previous party activity to be used for attaching paper strips together to make a wide-enough headband and for affixing feathers to the paper. It worked great!


2. Walk the Plank: In our Pirate ship area, we laid out a blue blanket and put a two-by-four on top of it with the words “Walk the Plank.” This was as risky as we were going to get with 6 to 9 kids, all ages 5 and under (and all walking except Snuggly Man).


3. Ride the Crocodile: This not only looked cool, next to our pirate ship-infested waters, but it was such a huge hit and totally worth the 10.99 we spent on Amazon!


4. Hook a Pretzel: All I needed to buy for “Hooking” a pretzel was a bag of pretzels, then round up my costume pirate hooks, a big bowl, and a chalkboard sign. I saw this somewhere on Pinterest and thought it was such a cute idea. The preschool crowd we had thought it was so fun. It seemed like they just loved being able to access their own snacks, and they loved showing off their skills with a plastic pirate hook.



Somehow, I forgot to take a photo of the table, but we decided on breakfast tacos! Snuggly Man absolutely loves eggs, and he loves tearing into his very own tortilla, so this was his perfect party food. We bought three different types of tacos, and labeled each serving dish with a chalkboard clothespin. We also had guacamole, pico de gallo, and chips to go with them. This was a super easy food plan. I also bought green paper goods, some green paper straws, a pirate table cloth (red and white striped), and some striped napkins. I also framed an 8 x 10 picture I printed on my printer of a googled image from Peter Pan to display next to food stations.


Plus, I made cupcakes inside of ice cream cones, which turned out great (this was my first time to try this fun way of baking them). All you do is fill each cone about 1/2 way full of the batter, and bake them as normal. I set each cone in a muffin tin, to help keep them upright. Having the cupcakes in cones made them easier to handle for icing and decorating them (less messy), and it made holding one and eating it much easier for 1-year-old Snuggly Man – Win/Win! For decorating the tops, i slathered on some store-bought vanilla frosting tinted blue with food coloring. Then, I dipped them in a bowl of green crystal sprinkles – very cute and very fast. Lastly, I used a small tube of black gel icing to draw an “X” and little dotted lines to make a treasure map – actually, I drew one and let my little sister (Sunflower) draw the rest…about 1 minute after the party was supposed to be starting, ha! She made them beautiful and super-cool-looking!


For the big “smash cake” time of the party, I had Snuggly Man’s high chair set up in front of dark, pretty curtains so that photos wouldn’t be washed out by backlight. He absolutely loved having balloons tied to his high chair, so we got cute pics of him gazing in wonder at balloons and his very own cupcake-in-a-cone. It was magical, and the (iphone) photos turned out so precious.



For party favors, I let Pen Elaine decorate brown paper lunch sacks with pirate stickers and wrote “Pirate booty for a BOY or a GIRL” on each of them. I filled them with (leftover Christmas stocking) candy…as well as plastic gold coins for boys and necklaces for girls. (Confession: I went through my old necklaces and picked some I never wear and seemed sturdy enough to last a day or two in the hands of a preschooler.)



I think Snuggly Man had a fun time at his party!


Original onesie designed by Big Sis



I know I saw this somewhere on Pinterest or possibly linked in projectrunplay.com…and tucked the idea in the back of my mind for when I had a baby and a big sibling. This was super easy and quick!

1. My little girl drew a picture with pen onto a piece of white paper – I asked her to draw a picture of her and her baby brother…but at 2-and-a-half, she draws what she wants, and I’m not sure if she drew that or just tried filling the paper with swirls 🙂

2. I pinned the picture onto the front of a onesie, using several straight pins scattered around to prevent sliding or stretching of the fabric when I started the sewing stage.

3. Very carefully, I used my sewing machine to follow the artistic pen lines with a running stitch. I used forward and backwards stitching and moved that onesie in all different directions as I tried to only stitch on top of drawn lines, to keep as much of the integrity of the artwork as possible. 🙂 (I used green thread, as you can see.) The tricky part is to not sew the front of the onesie to the back!


4. Finally, with care, I tore off the paper from the onesie, much like tearing a perforated paper out of a notebook. I removed all the big pieces and as may of the tiny pieces as possible, but any little remaining remnants get removed when you throw this onesie through the wash.


Now, it’s done! Your little one can enjoy wearing a piece of art, and your bigger one can enjoy seeing her artwork being proudly worn by baby brother!


Advent Activity: Salt Dough (part 2)


Read the rest of this entry

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.

Preparing Big Sibling for a new baby…



With the new baby boy coming any day, one of the biggest concerns in the back of my mind is my “big” girl and how this huge change in our lives will affect her. She is our crazy 2-year-old right now, asserting herself in many, many ways while still the sweet little princess of our everyday. She rules the morning and the afternoon and the evening, and even though she is a little “momma” already, she is in for a big surprise, and I can’t help but worry sometimes about losing some of our special time together. For instance, when we went into the library the other day, it was an especially cold day, and when I was getting her out of her car seat, she requested to snuggle in with me from the cold. So, I carried her inside with her arms wrapped tightly around my neck and her hooded head pressed into my shoulder, and I thought, how will I do this when I’ve got another little baby to carry inside…I know it’s irrational and becoming a big sister will be great for her, and we will still have time to snuggle with and without baby brother, but I know a big change is coming!


In these last few weeks, we are “partying” while we can, having mommy-daughter dates during the day and living it up, in our own way 🙂 We make it out of the house in our own timing (sometimes we do a craft before we leave) and pack plenty of water and snacks.

Here’s some of our recent dates:

  1. We treated ourselves to drinks and a shared scone at a coffee shop near the library, to which we walked and picked out books afterwards.
  2. I wanted to get a pregger walk in at the mall, so we treated ourselves to a food court lunch (Pen Elaine ate French fries for lunch that day…), used up a gift card in one of the shops, and then I hustled through a brisk 20 minute walk with her in the stroller, eating raisins.
  3. I had a return at Hobby Lobby, and I promised her a trip to the pet/pet supply store next door afterwards. So when we arrived at Hobby Lobby, I let her pick out a small bag of “gummies” to eat while I shopped, and after checking out, we walked to the pet store and looked at all the animals (birds, ferrets, guinea pigs, reptiles, fish, etc.), and she got to pet someone’s dog and play pretend with a stuffed dog on display that was modeling some sort of harness.
  4. At-home date – we play pretend together with whatever small dolls or people she wants (prince and princess in a castle is a current favorite) or pretend to be animals together (she made herself a hippopotamus the other day and me a lion), with no deadline or rush…other than lunch time.


Here’s my list of other ways we’ve been preparing Pen Elaine to become a big sister for the past several months:


1. Pack a wrapped present in hospital bag, from baby brother. We bought a no-mess coloring kit and wrapped up the pieces to be opened at the birth. The present is “to my big sister” and from “baby brother.”


2. Treat real and pretend babies with gentleness… Pen Elaine is already a little momma, so she loves baby dolls, and I’ve just been more aware of how she treats her dolls and remind her not to leave babies on the ground, or hit them, or yell at them, etc. even if she is pretending that they are getting into trouble since babies don’t know any better when they do something silly or that she is not allowed to do (e.g., play with their food, put toys in their mouth, not share toys…). She has informed us several times that she will have to tell baby brother not to play with his food (she loves to play with hers). We also have been reading books about having a new baby in the family (see upcoming post for some of our favorites).


3. Practice holding real babies! Somehow, God worked it out where Pen Elaine has had a ton of practice being around new baby boys for the past several months. We have close friends and family having babies while we are still waiting for our own, so we’ve taken advantage of this great opportunity for Pen Elaine to be a big helper and hold new babies, at her great excitement and request. She looooooves holding babies and is concerned when they get upset. So, she has practiced jobs like finding the pacifier for the baby, throwing dirty diapers in the trash, and making funny faces and sounds to entertain a baby. She has also learned about holding a baby the right way, while sitting down, supporting his head, and being gentle, making sure to ask permission before holding a baby and letting an adult take the baby back when she gets tired.


4. Discuss how real babies used to be in their mommies’ wombs. This comes easily when you are around other pregnant friends who have their babies. I think Pen Elaine really got this concept down by knowing about other friends and relatives who were pregnant, “had a baby in her womb,” and then when we get to see the actual baby, we talk about how the baby was ready to be born and come out of his mommy’s womb! Thus, our baby (brother) will be ready to come out of my womb one day (in January), and we talk about that coming up when he is done growing. We also talked about how when she was a baby, Pen Elaine used to be in my womb too!

20131231-162314.jpg5. Look at ultrasound photos. From his first photo, we’ve been sharing baby brother’s pictures with Pen Elaine, so she has a physical, visual representation of the new person inside my womb. Even before we went to the doctor appointments, I would tell her how we were going to go see a picture of her new baby brother (or sister, before we knew). In fact, when she didn’t get to go to the big ultrasound appointment, she still knew that her daddy and I were going to go see pictures of baby brother and would get to show her some afterwards. Then, when she was at appointments where they did quick sonograms, she recognized the images as pictures of the baby! Also, as soon as we decided on a name, we told Pen Elaine and enjoyed all referring to him as a real person with a name.


6. Talk about where the baby is…in Mommy’s womb! So, we didn’t use the word “tummy” since that is where food goes, plus, as a developmental psychologist, I don’t see any reason not to use the word “womb” since it is not a bad word or socially inappropriate. Plus, I’ve had experiences where little kids thought someone had eaten a baby, and that’s just got to be confusing…This also helps answer questions that come up about a baby in daddy’s womb, since the fact that he doesn’t have one is an easy response. Plus, with a growing belly, it gets pretty obvious that the baby is inside of mommy somewhere! One of my favorite memories from this pregnancy is when Pen Elaine was playing at a McDonald’s playground and told any kid who would listen that she had a baby brother in her mommy’s womb. She has also impressed teachers and strangers about her knowledge of “wombs,” ha! Just switching out “womb” for “tummy” makes her sound like a smart cookie.


7. Encourage big sib to talk to the unborn baby. The most delightful part of being pregnant with a second child is sharing the joys of pregnancy with a toddler. To begin, I would encourage Pen Elaine to talk with me to baby brother and sing to him, and I would try to get her to feel his kicks, but that was hit-or-miss. However, once it clicked with her that her baby brother was inside my womb, nestled in my growing belly, she spontaneously loved to “interact” with him. She started making funny faces at him and told us that she made him laugh. She loves giving him hugs and saying how she loves him, especially before bed and first thing in the morning. She tried to tickle him and blow raspberries on him…you can imagine how that looked. One morning, during a snuggly mood, she told me she wanted to snuggle with baby brother and laid her head on my belly and nestled in her little arms. She gives him kisses all the time.

We are also going to the free “sibling class” offered at the hospital. So, I think she is as prepared as possible…of course, I still know that a big sister can never imagine what’s coming until the baby arrives, and with it, all the emotional lows and unimaginable joys that a new little person can bring to a family.