Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 30 Day Challenge - Completed!

I really cannot believe tomorrow is August! Where did July go?? But it's the end of the month so it's time to review how this month's challenge went. These were the challenges I set for myself at the beginning of July:
  1. Repeat the 30 Day Yoga Challenge.
  2. Keep kitchen surfaces decluttered.
  3. 30 Day Blog Challenge - blog at least 6 out of 7 days in the week.
And the results?

I took a rest day at the beginning of the month in between yoga challenges and only missed one day of yoga afterward. But I made up for it by doing two days' worth of workouts the following day so teeechnically I was 30 for 30. Here's a glimpse of how yoga usually goes down in my house.

 Sometimes I stretch next to Mommy...

...and sometimes on Mommy!

The Kitchen Declutter Challenge went so-so. The table is piled up again but for the most part I did manage to keep the counters pretty clean. Honestly, this challenge would have gone better but I spent most of my time between putting Little C to bed and going to bed myself blogging and relaxing for a little bit and forgot about clearing the table and counters.

As for the Blog Challenge, I am happy to announce that this will be the 27th post in 31 days! (Although you could easily see that yourselves... ;-) ). I want to thank all of you out there who have taken the time to visit Mama Bear's Cottage and I hope to get much more great content up here in the next few months!

Speaking of next month, I will be repeating this month's challenges with one addition: The Outside Play Challenge! Often I feel like laziness takes over and Little C and I don't go outside at all. Having to put on sunblock - and having to chase a toddler to do so - and gather our gear and then a full change and wipe down when we come back (not to mention the occasional heat headaches...) sometimes seem like too much effort. Plus we've had a problem with mosquitoes this summer, even in the middle of the day, so we have had to add bug spray to our regimen! But I know it's good for Little C to get outside and she enjoys it so my August pledge is to go outside more often, ideally at least 5 out of 7 days a week, even if it's just for 10-15 minutes. If anyone has any easy and fun outdoor activities to do, please share them!! I'll post any fun ideas we try.

Do you sometimes fall into the lazy "stay indoor rut"? If so, join me for this month's challenge!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pretend Play - Brewer's Apprentice

Can you believe it's already day 30?! I made it! Tomorrow we'll catch up on my July challenge and introduce next month's challenges!

On to the topic at hand! Today I have one of Little C's cutest and most out of the ordinary pretend play scenarios, the brewer's apprentice. Daddy regular brews his own beer on the patio and Little C has become interested in what he's doing. So I set up her own brewing station!

Our supplies included:
  • Large stainless steel pot
  • Stainless steel bowl turned upside down to act as the "burner"
  • Plastic crate on which to place our burner and pot
  • Plastic spoon
  • Small plastic spoons/cups
  • Bucket of water
  • Bag of dried beans for "grains" (I'm working on figuring out a good reusable material to use as the grains)
  • Leaves for "hops"
  • Fruit-shaped plastic ice cubes

Eventually I will make a little instruction sheet for Little C so she can work on following the steps that Daddy does (and a proper vocabulary list!), but for now she just plays and pours and mixes and "tastes." We pretend to turn on the burner by turning an imaginary knob and going "shhhhoooo." Then she steeps the grains (beans) in the water and gets it hot, stirring when necessary.

Little C prefers to dry hop her beer, so she adds in fresh leaves.

This will be a fruit infused beer so in go a variety of fruits!

Let's pull some off the top for tasting!

Of course at the end we have to strain the solids out - no one wants chunky beer! "Look, I made beer like daddy!"

Age: 5.25 months

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

National Dance Day Luau Dance Party!

This past Saturday was National Dance Day and we had the first of our planned annual dance parties! This year's theme was a luau; we kept it small and didn't go crazy. Little C sure was cute practicing her hula though!

Then we busted out the limbo stick figuring the most organized dancing we could get a few 2 year olds to do was go under a stick. Even with that we only got 2 out of 3 joining us!

 Hmm, what is this thing?

 Can I climb it?

No, go under it!

I must admit there wasn't a whole lot of dancing going on, although we did get all 3 kids to dance at least a tiny bit. At least we were outside getting exercise!

Monday, July 28, 2014

DIY Reversible Roadways & Train Tracks

We had a bunch of cars, trucks and trains but nowhere for them to drive! Even though Little C and I do like to drive them along the rectangles on the carpet sometimes, I figured she could use some real roadways. I saw this DIY Roadway from The Imagination Tree and thought it was a great idea but missing one thing. I knew if I didn't find some way to attach the road pieces, it would be a disaster. Little C is not quite capable of being so gentle as to drive the car over the road without the pieces moving apart. Add that to the desire for train tracks as well and the idea for my DIY reversible roadways and train tracks was born.

I used the flaps from various cardboard boxes as the straightaways and then cut some corners from larger pieces. Little C and I painted half the pieces black and half the pieces brown. Then I cut tiny rectangles of white paper and she helped me glue the strips onto the black pieces. While she was busy elsewhere I cut the train tracks out of brown construction paper and glued those to the brown pieces.

Next I glued one track and one roadway piece (making sure I had pieces of the same size!) back to back but off center so I'd have a little flap hanging out at either end. I stuck adhesive-backed Velcro onto the flaps at either end of the piece. All the train track pieces had soft Velcro pieces on the end and the roadways had the rough pieces to make sure the tracks would attach properly!

Now our cars and trains have somewhere to drive!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Extension - Choo Choo Express

Here's another fun Mickey Mouse Clubhouse extension activity! We played this for at least a good hour after watching the episode "Choo Choo Express." I'll give you a short synopsis if you haven't seen it - although it's not really necessary to watch before setting up this small world play. Anyway, Professor Von Drake creates this special non-melting snow but it's at the top of Mistletoe Mountain so the gang has to get on the clubhouse train to drive up the mountain, collect the snow and bring it back to the clubhouse. Afterwards, they decide all of their friends need to come play in the snow so they hop back on the train to pick up Clarabelle, Chip & Dale, Santa & Mrs. Claus and Pete. Then they all have a party in the snow.

First, we pulled out our Duplo train and Mickey pieces (Daisy is the purple block with pink flower, Clarabelle the yellow block with yellow flower and Pete the blue & black blocks). Next we laid out our Mickey Mouse play mat that came with the Mickey Mouse Busy Book. To make yourself one, grab a piece of white posterboard and get doodling! Here's a picture of our mat:

I tried to build compartments on the train cars so we could collect the snow and bring it back to the clubhouse but Little C yelled at me and took the blocks off the trains. So we made it snow by dumping a bag of cotton balls all over the play mat! Be forewarned, the cotton balls did leave lint all over our carpet but it wasn't anything a super quick vacuum couldn't fix.

Since we had our snow, now it was time to pick up our friends at their train stations! We built platforms for each train stop. Left to right is Santa & Mrs. Claus (Little C put the sign for the platform on top of them...), Clarabelle, Chip & Dale and Pete.

Then we placed our homemade train tracks around the perimeter and went to pick up our passengers!

When everyone had been picked up it was time to play in the snow. We made snowmen, threw snowballs, made snow angels, a ski/sledding slope and an ice rink. Of course I had to make Donald ski jump and land headfirst in the snow. "Why does this always happen to me?" Little C started repeating the phrase and giggling adorably. Anytime I left for a minute she would shout "Mommy come play in the snow!" I think it was a successful play time :-)

Vocabulary: Train, tracks, train stops, platform, sign, passengers, engine, caboose, cars, whistle, chug, snow, snowman, snow angels, ski, sled, snowball, ice skate, rink, slope, hill, jump, cold, slippery

Age: 2.4 years

Thursday, July 24, 2014

National Dance Day Preparation - Pearly Shells

Saturday is National Dance Day here in the US and in its honor we're
having a Luau Dance Party! We'll have Hawaiian music and limbo but we've
also been learning this super cute hula dance. It's so adorable to
watch Little C try to do the hand movements with the hula dancers in the

Sensory Play - Messy Outdoor Baking

Warning, I did say it was messy! But lots of fun, and it was outdoors so the mess wasn't as bad as it could have been. Every once in a while I think every child needs the opportunity to just mix and pour and concoct and make a mess! And this mess is really just having a bunch of dishes to wash afterwards.


Here's the setup:
In your sensory bin place...
  • Muffin tins with muffin liners (I had 2 tins, one with silicone liners and one with paper; next time I'd probably stick with one tin and just paper liners so I don't have to wash them)
  • Empty mixing bowl
  • Tub of flour
  • Tub of cornstarch
  • Ladle, whisk, measuring cups and spoons
  • Water dispenser filled with water (any sort of large thermos or drink dispenser would work)
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Sprinkles (don't expect there to be any sprinkles left at the end of this! Food coloring is also another option for added pizzazz but you may end up with some temporarily stained skin and empty food color bottles)
Little C scooped, poured and mixed

Then oh so carefully ladled into the cupcake tins!

 There go all the sprinkles!

But don't her cupcakes look lovely!

One major warning about this activity - if you want a relatively quick cleanup, plan to wash everything right away or at least fill a large tub with soapy water and let everything soak. When the flour, cornstarch and water mixture dries completely it takes a LOT of scrubbing to wash off. I'm not sure if using just flour or just cornstarch would make clean up easier. If you've tried it let me know!

Age: 2.25 years