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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween


Layla is going trick-or-treating for the first time. She's so cute as a little flapper - I love that she actually kept her feather headband on! And I love that I can reuse the costume for her dress-up bin :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

First Nap in New Room


Layla's First Nap in her new room - in her new bed!

We have been co-sleeping since she's been born. When she was about 16 months old she went into her own bed, but it is also in our room so when she wakes up in the morning to nurse we are in close proximity and we can both fall back to sleep together.

She absolutely loves her new room. It's the first place she wants to go when she wakes up in the morning and when she wakes up from a nap. So I thought it might be a good way to transition her into her own space - at least for nap time. I tried to put her to sleep in there today but she did not fall asleep: even though she said "I tired. nap." She laid down and we cuddled but she couldn't fall asleep - I think there is just too much excitement still. So we went to our bedroom and she fell asleep and I ever so gingerly made the transfer from there to her room - so when she wakes she will be able to play and explore. Eebee is there to keep her company.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Bread

One of my very favorite things about the Fall is definitely the smells - the autumn leaves, pumpkin bread, apple pies, cinnamon, nutmeg....mmmm. There is something about these treats that warm my spirit - they are cozy, delicious, and soothing. Today, Layla and I decided to bake together. She loves helping me measure, pour and, of course, taste. And I love that she's learning about volume, gravity, and mixtures through our simple kitchen experiments.

I've never made Pumpkin Bread before but got a recipe from WholeFoods and decided to give it a try. It was a treat and Layla really liked her "Pumpkin Cake!"

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/recipe.php?recipeId=1461
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We doubled this recipe so we would have enough to share! (We did not add nuts, and we didn't have any oat bran - so I put some oatmeal in the food processor and used that.) A sweet harvest treat.

Ingredients
Canola oil cooking spray
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat bran or wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cane sugar
1/3 cup canola or sunflower oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Method
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch loaf pan with canola oil cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. In a second large bowl, combine sugar, oil, honey, milk, pumpkin, egg and vanilla then add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and bake until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack then remove from pan and set aside to let cool completely.


video

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy 50th Halloween!

We just celebrated my Father-in-law's 50th birthday. It was so nice getting everyone together for this delightful event and milestone. As an added bonus - it was a Halloween dress up occasion. Food, Fun, Dancing, and People in Costume - what could make for a better Saturday Night?

I don't usually dress up - but for this special day I conceded. Layla and I dressed as Flappers. I was going to make our costumes but found them to be much less expensive just to buy them (The Fringe is a crazy expense!) Even though she didn't wear her headband with the feather, she was still the star of the night. She and I won best-dress prizes! (And it wasn't rigged, I swear!)

She was a little hesitant at first of all the faces - and new faces - white, red, witched, hat-ted, glassed - but by the end of the night all she wanted to do was boogie on the dance floor. She has the cutest moves! She kept going to get Da-Da - grabbing his hand and dragging him to the disco. She definitely made me think about dance classes soon....

Recycled Blocks!


It's amazing what you can do with just a couple old boxes and some duct tape. Believe it or not, it was less expensive to buy these Fiber One bars in 2 pack-boxes than in larger quantity so that's what I did. As I started breaking them down for the recycle bin I thought it was such a waste and just knew there had to be SOMETHING fun I could do with them. So I gathered up a bunch of noise-making objects - or experimental objects - pasta, rice, Q-tips, cotton balls, silver bells, paper pieces, fabric fibers, beans, straws, bottle caps.....etc....placed them inside the boxes and covered the outside of the boxes with colorful Duct tape (I love this stuff). Sure enough I turned a bunch of recyclables into play things: Building blocks. Layle likes finding the ones that have sounds and shaking them and the Duct tape actually creates a little traction so it makes stacking easier. Great Fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rock Star


This picture just makes me laugh when I look at it....Rock Star.

These are the 3-D glasses we got when we went to Layla's very first Movie Theater experience. It was a double feature: Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2. She definitely didn't keep her 3-D specs on in the theater, but once we got home she just wanted to rock around in them.

Monday, October 26, 2009

She'd LikeABike


So a little more than a week ago I came across this super cool LikeABike for little ones aged 2-5. What a BRILLIANT concept. It is a "bike" without pedals for kids to "scoot" around on. Instead of the traditional bike, training wheeled way, this only has too wheels. The child actually Learns to BALANCE the bike. At first they will stand, walking with it. Then they will sit and walk with it. And eventually they learn to walk, run, scoot with it - lifting their feet to glide around. The whole balance concept just makes sense to me. Training wheels don't really prepare you for a two-wheeled experience: they don't teach you how to balance the bike by yourself. This new version will give little ones an early lesson in physics and gravity - and prepare their skills for two-wheel-pedal riding. I mean, it's just smart.

Although right now, smart, comes with a large price tag. A whopping $315 for this bike-riding experience. When these become more mainstream (and believe me, they will) I am sure they will become more affordable. But right now, a Mom can dream, can't she? Maybe for Christmas we can all chip in...or maybe I can find a used one somewhere....

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I showed Layla the video. No, I was watching the video and the cute music caught her attention and she came to watch the video. "Again. Again" - she signed. "More. More." So we watched it more. "Bike." "Yes, Layla, that is a bike. He's scooting on a bike. Doesn't that look like fun?" "Ohhhh. Kay." She says.

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Today we went to the park with her. She didn't want to share the slide, but she persevered with our persuasion. I noticed a LikeABike - and quietly pointed it out to my husband (because I was surprised to see one.) Layla didn't miss a beat. "Bike! Bike!" She exclaimed. The Dad was all ready on his way to put the bike in the car. "Bike!" she said again. She ran after the boy who's bike it was. She turned back to Mom and Dad.

With the true-est of true, real-est of real, serious of serious faces, she said: "Bike. Bike."
She Started signing and said with a stern voice "Sharrrre."

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I guess Mama knows best....my little girl IS ready for a bike.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Blank Canvas!

Another Blank Canvas - the OTHER closet door. Yes, this girl has more closet space than most adults! (and yet it still never seems like enough.) This is a much smaller closet by the book wall. I wanted to do something to make this space interactive as well. I decided to make it a puzzle door - we have a bunch of diptic (2 piece) puzzles. My husband came to the painting rescue (again) and put 3 coats of magnetic paint onto the door. I put some magnetic adhesive strips onto the backs of the puzzle pieces and Voila - a puzzle wall! So simple, but so much fun.

Step 1: Gather Supplies - Puzzle, Magnetic Tape, Scissors


Step 2: Cut the magnetic tape to the proper length for your puzzle pieces
Step 3: Peel paper from back of magnetic strips and adhere them to each piece of puzzle.


Step 4: Stick them to a magnetic surface - Here we tested them on the fridge. Aren't these puzzle doubles adorable!? The graphics are so cute and I love that there are some colors other than the primary - gray, fuschia, maroon, lilac, aqua, beige - too cute!


Here they are on the Puzzle Wall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cubbies!

Cubbies are a definite in any toddler space - an organization system is a MUST. This was an inexpensive way for me to make the most of the space and bring a little harmony to the chaos. I like the idea of these little fabric baskets: they match, are cute, and are practical because they can be taken out and put onto the floor for play. We have these downstairs for her toys and she all ready knows what's "in the baskets" (they don't have labels downstairs) - but for her space I really wanted to try to establish a system and a reference guide for her. That's why I decided on labels - I love label making! I wanted her to be able to see the written word - the alphabetic combination of letters creating a symbol, just like the picture is a symbol to the contents inside. She can use the Pictures as a reference now, but can also start to put together the letters and words.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Layla's Tinker Toys

She still likes to cuddle, bite, drag, chew, and play with these little handmade pieces! - even at 20 months of age (I can't believe that many months have passed.) It makes my heart so happy to see her loving the things I create for her.

Here she is busy cuddling "I tired. I tired. I sleep. Nap." on her Tinker SquareD - the one that matches her bedroom quilt.

And here she is trying to get the shaker beads out of her Sound Gizmo - endless fascination trying to get these little colors out.

"Help. Help. Open. Out."
"I'm sorry, Layla, they don't come out. They are stuck."
"Ooooohhhhh. Stuck."

A conversation we have had many times!

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If you would like an item like this or a similar one, go to my shop and look around - or conversation me for a custom order.

www.MamaMayiShop.com

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gold-fishing!

Something as simple as Snack Time can become a learning experience filled with cognitive discoveries and fine motor practice. So simple, yet so complex. Here we had some "I love the fishes 'cause they're so delicious" Goldfish, multi-colors, as a snack. Layla was concentrating on picking them up with her fingers, putting them in the bowl, dumping them out, listening to the sound they made when they jingled in the bowl, or fell out of the bowl. Oh yeah, and they are fun to CRUNCH CRUNCH! We also talked about colors and sorted them together. So simple, but so much fun! :)

The Picture WALL!!

So the Picture Wall finally came together last week...it was QUITE the PROJECT but worth it, I think :) I adhered the frames to the wall using Velcro so that we could take them off easily and switch out the pictures and artwork. Layla has been loving to see herself and her friends and family in pictures and videos lately "more more more" so I think this will be a great place for her to observe and reflect about the amazing people in her life and the wonderful things she has accomplished so far. For now it is only immediate family members and lots of pictures of her "self" (she says) but we can incorporate more friends and family as time goes on...

Here is the debut of her Photo Wall....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is it Garbage?


Lately I have been astounded at how 20 month old Layla is able to discern what's "garbage" and what isn't. She is absolutely fascinated by opening the garbage can lid and putting things inside. At first I was worried that she would throw away "good" things: like her snack, play hide and seek with her favorite duck, or hide the TV remote (we still haven't found that one...) But more often than not - as in 9.95 times out of 10 - she is able to figure out what is "garbage" and what isn't - a concept I even have a difficult time wrapping my head around (Hello: pants, drawings, notebooks, flower petals from High School.) She goes around the house finding little nothings on the floor; pieces of paper, old lost Cheerios, scraps of mail, and toddles her way to the kitchen, gently opens the lid, and places the old crusties inside. The many things little ones are able to do never cease to amaze me. I will continue to be in awe until I can only find one of my favorite shoes....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh, Rice


Such a simple concept, really: rice in a cake pan. Some scoopers, dumpers, pourers and your got yourself a party in a box for little hands. The texture of the rice; the sound it makes when it dribbles from spoon to cup; the bouncing it does when it hits the floor from the high chair. It's like a zen garden for toddlers - I even enjoy moving and shaping the rice-scape. There is something very relaxing and therapeutic in the action of dragging the rake back and forth, back and forth. So for a while, this occupied Layla's time.

I think I am going to start keeping pre-made "trays" with lids available for us with different things inside each one. I think I will call them Modules. A box of stuff with some different experiment or concept behind in mind. On rainy days, or for "Mommy needs a moment" times I can pull out a new activity for her to ponder for a while....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chalk & Flannel "Boards"

Keeping with the whole Room initiative: I really wanted to make as many surfaces interactive as possible. We are lucky to have two closets in Layla's room (an anomaly for a city home) but with this fortune comes the work-around : How to make THESE doors (basically the whole length of the room covered in doors) interactive.

Wanting to make spaces throughout the room that promote different kinds of learning and develop different skill sets, I wanted to make sure the closets became an interactive addition to this goal. One became a chalk board and the other a flannel board. I wasn't sure if I wanted to "ruin" a door by painting or stapling it but figure when we are ready to leave this house we will be able to replace them and the years of use spent in between will be well worth it. When I was young I remember turning my door into a "Chalkboard" before they made chalkboard paint. Needless to say this, too, ruined the door- more so than painting it, in my eyes....so my husband was a trooper and a wonderful help: he primed it twice and put two coats of chalkboard paint on it.

We took both doors off the tracks and put them on the floor to create these. I attached a 2 1/4 yard piece of flannel to the door by stapling it to the back - as you would to make a canvas. I was originally going to make it from white flannel but found this really cute print and couldn't pass it by. I really couldn't have found anything to match the room better than these colorful blocks do!


On the chalkboard she can practice writing, scribbling, doodling, designing, etc.

The flannel board will provide another type of skill building - either abstract art, shape sorting/playing, imaginative play, felt dolls, seasonal learning tools and so on.

Photo Wall Problems

I definitely should have charted out the wall before choosing the frames, and choosing the pictures because I really turned this project into a big math problem with lots of limits and variables. After hours of charting, measuring, rotating, scaling, and visualizing I think I finally arrived at a design I am happy with - it is not as crip, clean, or "perfect" looking as maybe I would have wanted, but it will do the job and I think it is visually pleasing in the end.

My tech husband found this really cool tool to use to chart things out on the computer. PlanningWiz3. http://v3.planningwiz.com

After measuring and giving him the dimensions, he put it into the program: I think we used "bar stools" for out picture frames and made them the accurate sizes.

Our parameters?
21 small frames - ___ vertical ____ horizontal.
8 medium frames- 1 vertical, 7 horizontal.
3 large frames which ended up all being vertical.
4 mirrors.
a wall cutout (missing photos) where the cubbies will go so they don't get hidden away (the black space on the diagram)
And I wanted the light switch to be inside a picture frame
Then I taped out a space on my living room floor with the dimensions of the wall because it is much easier to put them down on the floor then on the wall for visualization purposes - and once the velcro sticks, I can't move them again.

So here is a picture of what it will look like on the wall once I put them up (hopefully!)
If things go according to plan I will post the next installment soon....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photo Wall Beginnings

Another project for The Room is a photo wall - a great way to involve Layla in people recognition and name identification; but also a great, 3-dimensional artwork, that adds more color to the decor. I bought a bunch of cheap wooden frames from Ikea - they aren't very finished looking, but inexpensive and because I am altering them anyway, it the aesthetic nature of the "before" doesn't matter. I actually like that the "glass" is actually a piece of plastic for her room as I don't have to worry about them being a safety hazard. These will be velcroed to the wall next to her bed as a place of Reflection and a reminder of all the wonderful people in her life and all of the amazing things she has done so far.
With a little color-coordinating scrapbook paper and some Mod Podge, I cut, pasted, and glazed these little wooden frames.


I printed photos of family members and photos of things Layla has done. I recently read a study which indicated that when we look at a photograph of a happy time our brains actually elicit the same happiness in response to the picture as they did while we were in it. With this in mind, there are plenty of happy faces - reminders of the things we've done together - and the fun times we've shared. I also tried to vary the "wheres" and objects within the pictures so we could also play "Can you find..." in the pictures...another interactive component and great conversation starter.

Some of the frames will be "empty" with a piece of velcro inside so that I may put her artwork inside and we can switch them out.

This is where the photos will go on her wall....the trick is trying to figure out the velcro matrix so that the frames will fit in a structured, aesthetic way, and still be interchangeable. More post to come on this project...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Plan Toys

Plan Toys makes some of the coolest wooden play things for little explorers. They aren't handmade, but most are eco-friendley, colorful, cute, and educational. The kitchen set is by far one of my favorites, but there are many in their arsenal I wouldn't mind having in Layla's room...
breakfast in bedTea Set - look at those tea bags - and the sugar bowl has real sugar "cubes" in it!
A definite must have - as Layla LOVES music...the Percussion set
Sorting Cone - great for building cognitive thinking and puzzle solving....

When I am done with all of my projects maybe I will take up woodworking - I have some great ideas that I would love to see become tangible, wooden creations....another canvas!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Words


Each wall in Layla's new room is going to be divided into "stations" or "sets" for her to interact and play with or simply explore. I wanted each set to have a theme - The themes are: Reflect, Dream, Investigate, Create, Imagine, Play, and Experiment. These words are going to be put up on the wall as a little reminders of how important curiosity, exploration, and play are - how little hands are doing a job.

I decided I didn't want to just Mod Podge them right onto the wall, because if we every arrange or rearrange, I want to the words to be up for the hike. So I decided to buy some inexpensive thin wood from Lowes and had the very nice man cut them all for me at dimensions I had pre-determined. (At home I had cutout the letters and laid them out the way I would like them to be seen/read. I measured the tallest letters height so I would know how tall the board needed to be and measure how long the letters were in sequence. I brought the dimensions with me when looking for the perfect pieces and to have on hand when it was cut.)

The Wood All Cut Up:

When I brought them home I painted them all white because the letter cutouts I chose are colorful enough on their own. The wood, however, will protrude a little from the wall creating a subtle dimensional effect.

Painted and Arranging the Letters:
Then Mod Podge the letters down - let dry - Mod Podge over top for a protective coating.

I can't wait to install these little word creations in her room!

Before:After:

All Done!