Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lions, glue sticks, and other indoor activities...

With the weather getting colder, I am forced to find ways to entertain my children indoors. Here are some things I have learned: A closet full of old Halloween costumes is a goldmine of fun for very young children! Your little monster driving you batty? Stick her in a lion costume! My daughter entertained herself for nearly an entire blissful hour this week stalking and roaring and chasing her tail. This is good info to know. Next week, we might try the dragon! Craft time! I'm developing a drawer full of crafty supplies: glue sticks, multi-colored paper, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, markers, you name it. Warning - they do NOT make glue sticks like they used to! Anything heavier than a small cotton ball will likely need to be secured with tape. Also, DO NOT leave the children alone with the glitter shaker. Yep, I'm making these colossal mistakes so that you don't have to... Color time! Yes, I have heard that pre-printed color pages stifle your child's imagination (whatever). However, I have had great success steering clear of toddler meltdown by printing a page of current holdiay characters (Santa, Uncle Sam, whatever) and letting my girl celebrate the season. You can find these for free at babycenter.com or through a quick Google search, such as Santa coloring pages. Hope these tips keep your little monsters occupied on the days when "going" is just not happening!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Activity Mistakes - 2 In 1 Day!

So today was clearly a day for learning. My daughter insisted on going to the "new playground" in a neighborhood near our house. Since it was sort of cold and blustery outside and I was feeling lazy, I decided on Chick Fil A instead. I thought I could pawn off their play center as a new playground and get a sandwich too (you'll see how I like combo outings). We got a table right on the other side of the glass from the play "enclosure" which is a fitting term for the pack or raging little creatures biting, wrestling, screaming, and flailing on the other side of the glass. My daughter was fascinated and I was of course terrified! How could I let my shy two year-old into that pack of monsters? One ruddy faced girl in particular made even me feel intimidated. Who were these children and where were their obviously disturbed parents? Imagine my surprise when perfectly normal mommies would appear to collect these nightmare children. Is this what normal 5 and 6 year olds are like? Against my better judgement, I sent my princess into the fray. She scooted immediately over to "toddler town" where only little ones her size were supposed to play. Of course that didn't stop the bigger kiddos from racing by and occasionally pushing her aside. It's so hard as a parent to balance on that ledge between protecting your little angel and teaching her independence. Luckily for me, my daughter is a smart cookie and quickly decided enough was enough. Five minutes of that mess and she was back at the door, waiting patiently for me to let her out. Oh, and on the way home she screamed again for the new playground and I found myself right at the place I wanted to avoid, standing in the wind and cold in the middle of a neighborhood under construction, nose running and cheeks burning as I watched my daughter happily run and play in her own empty playground! Mistake number 2 involved crafts. Darn you Babycenter and your stupid "make your own turkey from a pinecone" email update! Here's a tip: glue sticks do NOT make paper and cotton balls stick to a pinecone! And as if things couldn't get worse, I actually broke out the glitter duster in an effort to make the shabbily stuck together turkey at least look more festive, and of course she managed to get it while I checked on the baby. I should probably have invested in the Dyson when I bought a new vacuum last year. We'll leave it at that for today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Go Mommy Go - on the cheap!

It sometimes seems to me like SAHMs do just that...stay home! I understand (believe me) how difficult it is to get yourself and multiple small children dressed, pottied, fed, and out the door. Sometimes I feel like just staying home too, but I always regret it. Cabin fever quickly sets in with my 90 mph 2 year old and with myself as well. If you ask me, hiding in the house is a sure recipe for both mommy and baby meltdowns. Hence the Go Mommy Go! In an effort to give you some ideas on the cheap, here a my top 5 child-friendly, FREE outings: 1. Library, library, library! Big surprise coming from a librarian huh? Seriously though, the library is a mommy's (and a community's) best friend. My library in particular does something for children every day, and I mean every day! Crafts, story times, therapy dogs, mommy and toddler aerobics and music classes, you name it. I understand that some libraries do not host this many activities and if yours doesn't, ask them why. You might show them an under-served population they haven't considered before. Also, there is always a fellow mommy in the children's area desperate for a play date for herself and her children...bonus! 2. Playgrounds. If you're local to Norman, stay tuned as I like to "review" the many options in this town. Playgrounds and local parks are cheap (as in free) and you can visit all the ones in your area, so it's like a new trip all of the time. Especially fun in the fall when your toddler will love cavorting in the falling leaves. I'm also discovering indoor playgrounds in unexpected areas, like those humongo churches (also free and open to the public) and of course the local mall if you can take the cooties (I typically decide I CAN around mid-January). In my town there is even a great play center at the local car dealership, although I suspect it's a trap. 3. Ponds. Found in many subdevelopments, parks, and college campuses these are treasure troves of ducks, cat-tails, algae, and other such strange and fascinating goodies for toddlers. Pack a loaf of bread for ducks and geese, or for yourself if your feeling snacky! Warning: geese are often larger and more aggressive than the average 3 year old, tread lightly and when charged, toss the bread and run! Speaking of college campuses, they are also mine-fields of public art, some of it really fun and climb-able and a great way to introduce your kiddo to "culture." 4. Pet stores. I know this one sounds crazy but for a 2 year old, this can be as good as the zoo and usually requires much less travel, money, and planning. Seriously, these places now days have tank after tank of colorful fish, froggies, snakes, kitty cats, a menagerie of animals all waiting to be visited. They don't charge admission and if you happen to need dog food, you can chalk it up to two activities at once! 5. Farmer's Markets. In my town this is very seasonal, but still an option for 6 months out of the year. There are almost too many benefits of this one to list. Yes, it's not free if you buy something but you would be surprised about the selection and value of foods you buy at the grocery store anyway. You are supporting your local economy, teaching your children about healthy eating habits, learning about what your area has to offer from potatos to soaps, flowers, and flour. And you're showing your children a lifestyle and a people that sadly probably won't be around for much longer. My daughter loves to look at all of the vegetables and wave to the farmers. Children can really learn about where their food comes from and find more of a connection to it. Plus, those farmers love little ones! Don't be surprised if you come away from there with a free tomato or mini pumpkin :>) Those are my tips for the day. I realize that many of them require being outdoors and that winter is descending upon us. Stay tuned for tips on keeping kiddos happy and yourself sane during the not so sunny months. Maybe we should write to Starbucks about indoor play areas!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day Off...

...And by that I mean I'm working 8 hours at my "real" job at the library. Ah, love Saturdays when I get to sleep in for an extra 15 minutes or so, nurse, eat, get dressed, nurse again, drive to work. Did mention that my hubby brings baby up to nurse on my lunch break as well...at my request! Ah, I'm a glutton for punishment but the little bugger does not like a bottle and I am all about the path of least resistance. Ironically, library land is often much more mellow than life in the trenches with my offspring. And, the are usually snacks! Mmmm....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Welcome to post #1. I am still adjusting to life in the mini-van lane. My daughter just turned 2 and my son is almost 4 months. Yeah, that's right, I'm one of those insane "2 under 2" people. Every day I load these children into my car and take them somewhere, anywhere. Why would I leave my comfy pj's and remote control at home to lug 2 babies and their ridiculous amount of gear around town? Because my toddler does not nap unless she has been ferried to an activity! She requires a full level of exhaustion before even considering putting one toe in her bed, unless you count playing her game of going "night dreams" for 30 seconds at a time. Plus, it is truly mind-numbing being stuck in the house all day (if you're reading this I'll bet you know that already). So I go, and I go, and I go. And my daughter, she is my cheering squad, yelling "go mommy go!" every time I dare stop for a red light or a family of geese crossing the road. If you are as desperate to entertain your children as I am, then tune in. I'll post tips, stories, what works and doesn't, and ways to have a great time without whipping out the credit card. Enjoy!