Monday, January 27, 2020

Non-Candy Valentine's Gifts for Toddlers

Some how I blinked a couple of times and January is almost over, which means that Valentine's Day is right around the corner! In no surprise to my regular readers, I kind of like to make a big about holidays. I am not a huge fan of giving Jude a bunch of candy, so I thought I would make a list of Valentine's Day gifts under 25 dollars for your toddlers. Each product will be linked. I am not affiliated with any of them, I just want my readers to have it as easy as possible.

For the purists (red and pink and hearts, oh my!) 


For the open-ended toy lovers 

For the ones who need a quick gift under $10

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Play: Transporting Oats

It's been a really weird week in the Chicka Chicka household. Jude got food poisoning or a stomach bug for the first time. We tried to ease back into a routine after the holidays begrudgingly. It was a whole mess. I'm also working on how to create a schedule with the blog now that I don't blog every single day.  So, while I did this play activity three days ago, this is my first opportunity to sit down and write. I promise blogs will be more frequent than once a week in the future.
The activity today is an easy but fun one. It spawned from my desperate need to amuse a very grumpy Jude in the hour before nap time. All the materials came from my kitchen, and he could have easily played it for hours. The whole idea was allowing him to transport oats from one container to the other. He is most definitely deep in the transporting play schema, so this was perfect for him.

Transporting Oats Activity

Materials 

Optional
  • Trucks
  • ABC letters

Directions 

  1. Pour oats into a large flat container 
    • This is where I stuck the letters. I try to incorporate a couple letters as often as possible in play just to give us a chance to talk about the letters. I buried these some so Jude could dig them out.
  2. Model scooping the oats and putting them into the container 
  3. Let your little move them between containers. 
Optional: 
  • Introduce trucks or another small toy when playing begins to lull. This will spark a new excitement in play and drive it forward. We used a little dump truck (like the one from this set)

Talking Points

  • Even/uneven (in the muffin tin)
  • Describe the sound of the oats dropping
  • Texture of the oats
  • Tracks the truck makes
  • ABCs
  • Scooping
  • Holding the scoop flat
  • Dropping at different distances
  • Cleaning up after activities 

Notes

  • * We always use the same oats for these types of activities. I bought one big container of rolled oats to use just for sensory bins. I scoop as much of the oats as I can back into the container at the end of the play session. This is why we were doing it at the table as opposed to the floor. 
  • You may notice in the photos that Jude was on the table at one point. Do not leave your child unattended on the table. I was right there with him to keep him from getting exciting and toppling over. 
  • You could do a variation of this for older children where they transfer oats to different containers with the goal of making the containers even. 
  • If at all possible, use a metal muffin tin. It provides an added sensory component. Both you and your little's auditory sense will appreciate it. The oats give off a very satisfying sound when dropped in. 
We ended our play by cleaning up. I scooped the oats back into the container from the table, and then Jude and I both swept. I noticed recently that he has been very interested in sweeping, so I have been trying to bring out his broom too so he can help. It's great because he's not in my way when I'm sweeping (he used to try to grab the broom), and he's learning responsibility and practical life skills by sweeping himself! 


Saturday, January 4, 2020

This Is What Infertility Looks Like

I am infertile.

It took us almost 2 years to make Jude. The tumultuous process was filled with procedures, shots, and a whole lot of tears. I was plagued with a sense of failure and often felt like I was less of a woman because I was unable to conceive. I watched friends and family members get pregnant and give birth during this chapter in my life. Mixed with guilt for feeling empty and jealous but also feeling immense joy for the new life, I would hold those newborns tight just wishing, praying, and wondering if I was ever going to hold a newborn of my own.

Then Jude came. It was a medication free month, a break to lose weight before we started down the path of IVF. Whether it be my tube flush weeks before, a med build up, or a miracle, we did it. A baby was coming.

From the moment Jude was born, I found myself frantic to soak it all up as deeply as I could. I was weighed down with anxiety and worry. What if this was my only chance? What if something happens to him? My miracle? Will I ever get to experience these firsts ever again? Am I enjoying this enough? Am I remembering enough? It paralyzed me.

There is not a day that has gone past in the last 19 months that I haven't wondered if this was my one. He is perfect and special and my entire world, but I wanted more. I heard over and over again about secondary fertility, and I tried to remain hopeful. We started for number 2 when my cycle returned on Mother's Day of 2019. I attempted to keep my head up failed cycle after failed cycle.

Two weeks ago, I realized that after our 7th unsuccessful cycle that the cold hard truth of the matter was, I am infertile. Again. It's not Jay. It's me. It's my PCOS. It's my body. I am infertile. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I pulled myself up and made a doctor's appointment. Back on the meds we go. Intense tracking. Mood swings. Basal body temperatures. Hope turned to anxiety turned to a feeling of failure and back around again and again and again.

I wish this was a blog to announce number 2, but it's not. It's an honest post about my journey because infertility should not be a secret. 1 in 8 couples experience infertility. ONE IN EIGHT. Why are we made to feel like we shouldn't talk about it? Over 7 million women will struggle to conceive. So this is me, opening up, telling my story, and encouraging others to do the same.

If you are struggling for your first, I see you and I am here for you.
If you are struggling for your second, third, or nineteenth, I see you and I am here for you. The pain is not less because you already have a child. Your feelings are valid.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

365: New Year's Eve

December 31 is New Year's Eve. This marks the 365th holiday that Jude and I celebrated together this year. It wasn't always easy for either of us. Some days, Jude wasn't in the mood to participate. Some days, I just felt wiped. But, we persisted, and here we are a year later! We celebrated the holidays in  14 different states, in cars, at friend's houses. Jude grew from a barely sitting baby to a toddler that runs and talks. I grew from a sort of directionless newly SAHM to a mom blogger, Tinkergarten leader, and student of all things baby development and play!
For our celebration, we looped it all the way back around to the first activity that we did for the blog a year ago today. This is the post. Basically, we interacted with balls to celebrate a countdown to Noon Years. Jude spent a lot of time in a ball pit and watching balls roll. The ball dropping is such a big part of New Year's in the US.
I haven't put Jude's ball pit out in forever, so he was in heaven when he realized it was in the playroom. He swam all around the pit, dunked the balls, and kicked his feet all around. I brought over his tumbling wedge, and we rolled balls down it and watched in wonder as physics took charge and it rolled down with little effort.
Jude decided after not too long that he wanted to slide himself down. There were many giggles from both of us. It was a nice time for Jude and I to bond just mommy and dude.
Thank you to everyone who followed this 365 adventure. While we won't be blogging every single odd holiday next year, there will be 3-4 blogs that come out during the week with easy play activities, the struggles of mom-ing a toddler, and fun lists. If you would like a daily dose of Chicka Chicka Mama, join our Facebook group Chicka Chicka Mamas. It's a community to support moms and play!

Monday, December 30, 2019

365: Bacon Day

December 30 is Bacon Day. I feel like in our 365 holiday journey that we are too far to just cook something and call it a good celebration of the holiday. Instead, we used our brains and our imaginations, and Jude made bacon in his play kitchen.
Jude's pretend play kitchen/Fresh Mart area is probably my favorite part of the whole play room. Recently, he has been playing in it a lot more, and I love to see his creations! We had two phases of bacon interaction today.
First, Jude and HahHah cooked some wooden bacon. They practiced the sound bacon would make in the pan. They worked on the flipping motion. We talked about kitchen safety (never touch a hot burner or pan!). Jude ultimately decide that the best way to heat it was by putting it in the microwave.
We also took that cooked bacon, and Jude added it to his smoothies. Santa brought Jude this Melissa and Doug Smoothie Maker Blender Set, and it has been one of his favorite toys since. He spent 45 minutes yesterday just moving the fruit from the cup to the blender and back. It's been a hit. To add to the pretend play, HahHah sat down and ordered a smoothie from Jude, and he made it to order for her. She used her manners. She paid him. It was an adorable sight to see.
Pretend play is so important developmentally and playing kitchen is a universally understood form of play for all ages. Give a mixed age group a pot and some spoons and ask them to make pretend soup, and they will work together to make something great. It's universal, cooperative, and a whole lot of fun!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

365: Tick Tock Day

December 29 is Tick Tock Day. I can loudly hear this decade ticking away minute by minute. With only three days left of 2019, this day is dedicated to doing things that you meant to do before the year is over.
Today felt like a good day to pick an activity that I have been meaning to do with Jude and finally do it. I've seen a lot of variations of this card drop activity all around the internet. Jude has been excited recently with transferring thing from one container to another and back and back and back, so this felt like the perfect opportunity for him.
Set up was easy. I hoard recycled containers, much to Jay's dismay, so I already had this grits container sitting around the house. I took some scissors, pressed down and made a slash in the top, cut an appropriately size hole, and grabbed some cards. Voila! You have a card drop activity.
I could have never imagined just how much Jude would love this activity and how many skills he used when doing it. He put the cards through the top. He opened and shut the lid. He pulled cards from the table (they're so slick that it was much harder than one would think). He packed all the cards away, dumped them, and did it again and again. His fine motor skills were being put to the ultimate test.
Jude was deeply engaged with this for well over 30 minutes and really only left it because I got up to get some water. If you have a toddler, do this activity. I put it on Jude's shelf for this rotation to play with as he wants.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

365: Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day

December 28 is Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day. I really enjoyed doing this as a child, so I thought maybe Jude would too. Boy oh boy was I wrong.
After nap (mistake one), I modeled making snowflakes. Jude was mildly interested but spent most of the time throwing a Christmas toy at me trying to get me to help him. 
The second mistake was being too lazy to search for his baby scissors. I figured we would work together and he could use the big scissors. We were able to work together for a bit with him on my lap guiding his hands, but Jude wanted to be independent and got frustrated when I didn't allow him to have exactly what he wanted.
The final mistake was trying to get Jude to hold the snowflakes when we were finished. He didn't like them, so he didn't want to hold them. There was a lot of yelling.
The reason that I tell you all about this mess is a reminder to all of you, and me, that if a play activity isn't working move on. It's easy to build up a play activity in your head as something that will be so much fun, but when you go to do it, you little just doesn't like it. We all fall into the trap. Just move on to something else. The wasted time stinks, but both you and your little will end up happier! We moved on, and Jude was content again. Don't force play.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Celebrate with CCM!: January

Welcome to our first of 12 Celebrate with Chicka Chicka Mama! posts. We won't be blogging all of the holidays in 2020, but we hope that you use this as a resource to see past activities for the month ahead! The goal is to post a few days before the start of a new month, so people can celebrate odd holidays in the upcoming month.

If you do celebrate and post on social media, hashtag #ccmcelebrate to show us what you did!

January Holidays

January 2: Mew Year's Day
January 4: Braille Day
January 6: Bean Day
January 7: Old Rock Day
January 8: Poetry at Work Day
January 11: Milk Day
January 13: Rubber Ducky Day
January 15: Hat Day
January 17: Kid Inventors' Day
January 18: Winnie the Pooh Day
January 19: Tin Can Day
January 20: Cheese Day
January 21: Play Date Day
January 22: Celebrate Life Day
January 24: Peanut Butter Day
January 25: Opposite Day
January 28: Bubble Wrap Day
January 29: Curmudgeon Day
January 30: Croissant Day

365: National Call a Friend Day

December 27 is National Call a Friend Day. Jude loves making phone calls. More specifically, Jude loves FaceTime calls. Since he was a wee little baby, we have used FaceTime as a way for him to talk to his friends and family even when they aren't around.
We took the time today to call Jude's best friend, Q and his Uncle Mitchy to chat. Jude had fun showing them his new rainbow pebbles and babbling. FaceTime is such a lovely way to stay connected for friends both far and near!