I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but… I think I might have just stepped over to the Pinterest side of me that I didn’t even know I had. I started doing something new with my son, not having any idea of how it would turn out. And let me tell you, it was a BIG HIT.
Let me introduce you to “Sensory Bins”.
My sister has often mentioned the importance of sensory play. She’s a preschool special education consultant, so any advice she has to offer in way of cognitive development is going to be pretty valuable. It kept coming to my mind because I’ve been dying to try to find things for Jack to do. It’s too hot to play outside (other than swim) and this toddler NEEDED something new. BAD.
I started looking up sensory tables, knowing how ridiculous I was being since 1) I cannot afford to buy a sensory table and B) where the heck would I even put it. After some research, I found a new love. Which is sensory bins. And OH. MY. GOSH.
They are SO easy. You can find EVERYTHING you need at the dollar store. The only expensive problem is that I have too many ideas and I wish I could put together one for every week of the year. Seriously. I love these things. And not only do I love them, but you know who else does? MY TWO-YEAR-OLD.
He asks to play with them Every. Single. Day. As soon as he’s done eating breakfast he’ll walk over to the hall closet and point. “Bin! Bin!” When he plays… honestly, it’s actually quiet. Like NAP TIME QUIET. I am so obsessed with these, I don’t even know where to begin…
I guess I’ll start with the bins themselves. What the heck is a sensory bin? Basically, all it is… is a shoe-box sized container filled with some kind of material that a kid can just stick their hands in and feel! Texture is important. You can also put little treasures and toys in. Scoops, funnels, anything that will let them play around and experiment. It’s basically a miniature sandbox. (Actually, you can totally use sand!)
Is it messy? Yes. But isn’t everything else that a toddler does? Yes! In my experience, it hasn’t been bad at all and YOU are the one who controls what kind of a mess it is. YOU are the one who decides what kind of a bin it will be. You don’t even have to do it inside if you don’t want to!
So with that, let me show you what I put together, so you can get an idea:
I found these colorful packing peanuts. So fun. Despite the fact that he was the one who picked out the Styrofoam peanuts, this is actually Jack’s least favorite bin. I’m not too worried though because I think he’ll like it more as he gets a little older. I’ve hidden wooden numbers in there, which will be fun when he starts to learn how to count.
3 bags of packing peanuts: $6
Plastic shovels: $1
ALL IN ALL: $9
I reeeeally love this one. BECAUSE IT’S FREAKING DINOSAUR THEMED!
Red kidney beans $1
White beans $1
Dinosaur play set $1
Plastic shovels (shared with the other box!)
ALL IN ALL: $4
This is my most recent one, I put it together for the fall time! Take note of the messiness in the background.
Corn Kernels: $2
Fabric leaves: $1
Set of Dump Trucks: $6
ALL IN ALL: $9
This one is the holy grail of sensory bins for my toddler. Honestly, he’s kind of obsessed… THE WATER SENSORY BIN. And okay, I know what you’re thinking. Yikes! But here is what I do. Knowing that I was going to try out a water bin, I got a towel from the dollar store (bonus! This one is a cool round shape!) I set it out in the kitchen and put a bath mat ON TOP of that. Double protection. Then I have Jack sit with the bin on the bath mat. We’ve had a bunch of spills but it was no big deal with this set-up. I will say though that the first time he did this, he got pretty soaked himself- so that’s something to think about!
As you can see, I started to switch it up by putting in a tiny droplet of dishwashing soap and giving him one of my slotted spoons. He adored it. He likes to throw in glass aquarium pebbles, stir them around with the spoon and scoop up bubbles. This has been a massive hit at our house. In fact: Tantrum Warning – may cause a lot of tears when putting away!
Aquarium rocks $1
Spoons and dishwashing soap: On hand
ALL IN ALL: TWO FREAKING DOLLARS
Today he also decided that he wanted to “wash” everything in my baking drawer. So prepare yourself for this kind of discovery/shenanigans.
I’ve been having way too much fun. I found an easy recipe to make fake snow. I think I’ll be putting together a winter bin in a few months!
There is just so much happening right now that I’m not even sure how to consolidate this information into one post. So please forgive the scatter-brained mess this will be haha
Arizona is great and we love it. Even with the summer heat, (I think the highest it’s gotten so far was 113 degrees Fahrenheit?) But tbh, I live the hermit lifestyle anyways and the AC in my apartment is great!
What I would say to someone looking to move down here would be… you like strip malls? Because at least where I live in East Mesa, there are alternating strip malls and gated communities in between a lot of palm trees and cacti. The great thing about it though is you are always in a close radius to any store you could dream of. There’s a department store or grocery store every two blocks and anywhere you’re at you are by a freeway enterance. The design is really smart and this state has everything dialed in. Like OH MY GOSH all the roads are huge!
‘Kay, I don’t know if it’s just the area I’m in, but the people here are either big hit or completely frigid when it comes to friendliness. And (kiiiind of an agist perspective) I’ve noticed that it is totally dependent on age. Like, the younger people in my building complex. Lol… I will straight up make eye contact with them and loudly say, “Hi!!” And they will 100% snub me as they pass. On the other hand, I’ve had several old people stop and talk to me *just because I was smiling to myself*. It’s a funny dynamic. I’m sure my loud, young-person greetings pins me as an outsider even more than my translucent skin color and long pants.
Overall, this place is a big hit for Dan and I. Jack has adjusted very well to our new apartment and has been EATING UP all of the time he gets with Daddy.
Yeah! The pregnancy is going well. I don’t know how I always manage to be pregnant when we move somewhere and end up being the useless lump. Ugh. Carrying Jack is getting harder and I get a lot more tired than normal. But I think that has to do with all the running around we’ve been doing as well. This baby is SUPER SUPER active. I feel twists and turns all day and Daniel can even feel little kicks now. Trying to find a doc is a bit stressful, but everything is going great. Stay tuned for a gender reveal soon!
So if you haven’t seen my last update, my computer blew up. WRITERS. WORST. NIGHTMARE. I ordered a new computer and now I’m waiting for it to arrive. (Typing this on my phone still).
Fortunately, my novel is backed up and safe. If June hadn’t been so hellishly ridiculous I might have my fourth draft finished by now. Buuuuuut nonetheless I am incredibly close. I can see the finish line. Just another round of edits (Oh, just that?? That’s nothing. **SARCASM**) and then TA FREAKING DA, I’ll start beggining door to door for representation.
Here’s something cute: I was in the bathroom getting ready and could hear Dan on the phone with an insurance agent. (He didn’t know I was listening) When they asked what I did for a living, he very confidently responded, “She’s an author.” THIS DOLL I MARRIED WHAT THE HECK! He believes in me so hard! I hope he’s right. And I hope I can kick it back into gear when my new laptop comes.
Oh and PS the cute black laptop that died was named ‘Othello’. I’m considering naming this next one ‘Horatio’, since, ya know, he’s basically the only character that survives in Hamlet. And I’m really looking for a computer who can live to “tell my story”. Haha!
That’s about it. Blech. Sorry. At some point I’ll get back to normal with this blog and put out more embarrassing stories.
You stay at home with your kid all day? Liyke, what do you EVEN doooOOOOoooOOOoooo?
Alright, well, this is what my average day looks like:
8:30 Get him up and dressed.
Sometimes if I’m lucky, he’ll want to cuddle into me for a bit. I give him breakfast (which is usually waffles and cereal) and I put on Sesame street. While he’s distracted and buckled into his high chair I RUN, take a shower and get dressed for the day.
This is usually the second most exhausting time of the day. It involves a lot of going up and down the stairs, opening and slamming doors, jumping on the bed… I have to SECURELY HIDE my phone and remotes to pull off no screen time.
11:00 Probably caving into more screen time
Around this time I’m usually like, okay… let me destroy you with more TV. Jack LOVES music videos! So he’ll usually go for that. He likes Coldplay, OK GO, Fun, Fall Out Boy, selective Taylor Swift (he’s really picky about her stuff), weird viral music videos like Gangham Style and that Pineapple Pen song.
By now I’m usually giving him a hot dog or a sandwich OR BOTH. (He eats a lot). String cheese, veggies, maybe a cookie 😉 😉
Finally! The glorious nap time! Jack is a good sleeper, so I can count on at least two to three hours. Sometimes he’ll fall asleep right away, sometimes I have to put him down like three or four times while he laughs at me.
This would be a good time to get cleaning done… you’re right. It would. BUT I try to reserve this time for writing. That way I’m working on it everyday and it’s just a way to ensure that mommy gets time for herself.
4:00 snack / hobbit dinner / outing
Like I said, he eats a TON. Dad doesn’t get home until later and I know that he won’t make it until then so I feed him when he wakes up. After he eats, this kid needs to GET OUT. Lately, it’s been freezing outside so it’s been hard finding things to do. Sometimes we visit someone. Sometimes we just straight up go to a toy store and run around. The afternoon outing is interchangeable with the morning playtime and I do that sometimes especially if grandma invites us out to lunch or something.
5:30 starting dinner, trying and failing to do a last minute clean before dad gets home
This is the hardest part of the day. I’m running around like a zombie while Jack is pawing at my legs and crying because I’m not playing with him. Aaaargggh! Sometimes I leave my phone on the floor at my feet so he can have a go, but then he usually tries to video chat random contacts in my phone.
6:30 Dan is home and we have dinner together
I’m so glad when daddy comes home. Glad as I can be. We all have dinner together (including Jack whose hobbit dinner is wearing off by then).
7:15 Mommy needs to freaking LAY DOWN
Dad usually plays a game of Hide and Seek with Jack, (his favorite thing). When Dad is exhausted we have family time by watching a couple of Fail videos on YouTube which our little one year old is all about tbh.
8:15 Bedtime routine
Jack gets a bath. Jammies. A book that he picks out. His teeth brushed while he tries to push you away. Family prayer. A song. Tucked in.
Now Mommy and Daddy can binge watch Catfish and eat the ice cream that we didn’t want to share with our son.
My resolution for 2018 has been to “try not to automatically assume the worst thing is going to happen”. And to start out the new year we really put my fears to the test by taking our 18-month-old on a very ambitious vacation.
It’s hard. Maybe it’s a mother bear thing, because eventually you train yourself to predict what will happen with your child. “Don’t play near that table, you’re going to knock your teeth out. Don’t sit on the sofa like that, you are going to fall backwards. Everyone hide all phones and remotes or we’re about to have a meltdown.” As our vacation drew near all I could think about were my disastrous predictions. But you know what? Overall, I will say that my negative expectations were very much proven wrong.
THURSDAY: SHIPPING OFF (AS IT WERE)
Expectation: Jack will throw a HUGE tantrum on the plane and it will be a miserable two hours.
Reality: Jack did fine on the plane. Everything else went wrong.
Seriously. Jack on the plane, total angel. Trying to get on the plane. PBBBBBBBTTTTTTTHPPPPPPPPT! (In case you couldn’t tell that was me blowing a raspberry with my thumb pointed down) Our boarding pass didn’t print. Security was backed up. My baby food tested positive for bomb material for some reason. (TF!?) The amount of freaking money we spent on a Taxi, I was like, really? Why don’t you just float us across the pacific then for that kind of room and board.
Finally, we made it onto the ship and met up with family. Then I could focus on the SINGLE BIGGEST FEAR of the trip…
Expectation: Jack wont sleep a wink in his stranger danger porta crib.
Reality: Jack slept so deep that he might have slipped into several comas. I’m not sure
When we went camping to witness the Solar Eclipse… it was a nightmare, okay. We had to take turns sleeping in the car to actually get our child to stop screaming at least. This time, zonked. He didn’t care. He didn’t even wake up through the several announcements and alarms leading up to the mandatory safety meeting. Neither did Dan. The two would’ve gone down with the ship, still synchronize snoring in the cabin.
Turned out, not even a marching band could wake this child. He slept through lights being turned on, he slept through us talking and laughing at normal volume. He even slept through the Disneyland fireworks show which sounded like a full on air raid TBH.
Expectation: We won’t be able to see much of Mexico and have to come back early so Jack can nap on the ship.
Reality: We got to do a day excursion and Jack napped on the go.
See, I told you about the sleeping thing.
We got to do some street shopping and see ‘La Bufadora’, which is like the Old Faithful of the Mexican coastline. “Really?” No, not really at all actually, but still. AND THE TACOS OMG! If you are wondering whether I purchased a very expensive cruise ticket just for Mexican tacos… then you clearly have never had authentic Mexican tacos. Good day, sir. I SAID GOOD DAY.
SATURDAY: A CHOPPY DAY AT SEA
Expectation: It will be rough keeping Jack entertained.
Reality: It was rough keeping Jack from having fun.
All this kid wanted to do was run around. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Lapping the length of the ship over and over. Up, up, up and down, down, dooooooownnn each and every staircase he could find. He had to explore every single inch of the ship. The Casino, the smoking areas, fire station units, stranger’s cabins. I swear, Jack’s dream vacation would be to go to a giant enclosed football stadium, have someone wind up the key in his back and spend the week doing endurance training. It was hard to get him to SIT DOWN. Or you know, step away from the toddler-sized gaps in the railing on the upper deck.
SUNDAY: TAR PITS, HOLLYWOOD, LOTS OF DRIVING
Expectation: We will be twiddling our thumbs all day.
Reality: We did tons of fun stuff. It turned out to be one of my favorite days.
We had nothing planned for this day, other than we knew we would do something with my husband’s side of the family (with whom we shared the cruise with) and then something with my side of the family later on (with whom we were to share Disneyland with). But none of us, really had any plans in mind. So we ended up hanging around Hollywood.
AND IT WAS AWESOME.
Okay, so I had never been to the tar pits before. We ended up spur of the moment going there… I turned into a nine year old boy. I just REALLY needed to see something sink into that tar. So I peer pressured [bullied] my husband until he threw a big rock in there AND IT WAS SO CEWL OMG LIKE SOMETHING STRAIGHT OUT OF AN ODDLY SATISFYING COMPILATION ON THE YOUTUBES!
Afterwards we all had a nice uplifting Sabbath lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. Somehow my baby slept through like 40 minutes of concert-level music. (Why do I worry about things?) He of course later woke up to get in on rocking out. –Hard Rock Cafe is kinda like my thang. So I was very hyper and talkative [annoying?]–
Hard Rock Cafe also happened to be neighbors with Grauman’s Chinese Theater, so we stopped there too because eh, why not?
Expectation: Jack wont be able to do much.
Reality: There was so much for Jack to ride that we didn’t even get to all of it.
Someone once told me that there isn’t a lot for babies to do at Disneyland, but THAT AIN’T TRUE! I think it’s easier to name the rides that babies CAN’T go on than the ones that they can. I can’t say the same for California Adventures but at the OG uhhhh YEAH! It’s a family place for a reason.
Pluuuuus Grandma and Grandpa took Jack back to the hotel for his afternoon nap. While Dan and I got to ride all the big people rides. Yeah, whassup Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Space Mountain I’m looking at you, sailor. It was the best date ever.
NUMBER ONE TAKE AWAY ADVICE FOR PARENTS WANTING TO BRING TODDLERS ON VACATION: Bring other adults with you. Seriously, it was a relief both on the cruise and at the amusement-park-designed-specifically-for-parents-to-enjoy-with-their-children-but-maybe-he-enjoyed-his-nap-tho-shuttup.
TUESDAY: DISNEY BEFORE THE TREK HOME
Expectation: Disneyland would be rained out and half closed.
Reality: It was ABSOLUTELY the most darling and wonderful Disney day.
The days we went to Disneyland were the days California decided to flood.
We were gearing up for our underwater Disneyland tour, when guess what? It turned out to be a perfectly sunny day. (And the crowds were frightened away too) Walked on to every ride, had a marvelous time. And OH NOT TO MENTION. Jack just happened to meet his hero after riding the Winnie the Pooh ride a few times in a row.
Let’s play a game, who is more excited to meet Pooh. Jack or Mom?
It was a lovely trip and here’s my takeaway… That scary thing you’re thinking of doing? Look, you should just do it. It’s likely that your expectation of an EPIC FAIL may actually be just an expectation and nothing more.