Friday, November 18, 2011

TV-Free Toddler - Tea Flower

Today's TV-Free Activity: Tea Flower Watching
Materials: Clean glass jar, jasmine tea bloom (or other blooming tea ball), hot water, crayons
Ages: 2+
Time Filled: 15 minutes
Note: This is NOT self-directed.  Close supervision required.

You may have noticed a lapse between posts.  I must admit, I have fallen off the TV-Free wagon.  This is because, simply, I have not slept in 5 months.  I had foolishly hoped having a newborn would afford me better sleep than I had been getting while pregnant.  I was enormously uncomfortable, besides just being enormous, and had to pee every 2 hours all night long.  I had this blind, naive hope that Malcolm would be sleeping more than 2 hours at a stretch by this point, but he seems to have regressed to sleeping 90 minutes or less.  So now, while I blessedly don't have to pee all night long, I am still getting up all the time to void liquid, just now it is from my boobs.

Anyway, I digress.

I fell on this activity purely by accident.  I a fun craft in mind for today after lunch, but needed to stop at the craft store for some glitter and glue this morning on the way home from getting Lucy at preschool.  Then, I realized how insanely difficult it is to "stop by" anywhere with two small children.  So I was going to skip TV Free today (again) and clean up the kitchen while she watched 20 minutes of Dora.  I was cleaning up lunch and noticed the box of jasmine tea blooms I had left out from when I went through my extensive tea collection a week or so ago.  These "blooms" are dried jasmine tea tied cleverly so that when the are steeped in hot water, the ball opens to reveal a lovely flower, all while brewing a cup of yummy, fragrant tea.  I thought Lucy would enjoy watching the flower bloom.
Which she did - look at her oozing excitement! :-P  She actually did say "That's really cool, Mama!", so she did think it was fun to watch - only it was taking too long to hold her attention for very long.

What she DID enjoy was drawing on the hot glass with a washable crayon.  She found a yellow crayon on the floor and started to draw on the jar.  I was about to stop her (I thought she would have to push too hard to make a mark and possibly spill the jar of hot water), when I noticed that the heat from the water was melting the crayon.  It was like she was using a mess-free paint brush!  I am not sure if regular crayons would work as well as the washable ones since they are much softer than standard crayons.  And the really cool part is that the crayon literally just wipes right off the jar.

I like this activity for a number of reasons.  1) It uses your senses - watching to flower bloom, feeling the hot glass, smelling the jasmine tea, tasting the tea.  2) It provides an opportunity to talk about being patient and delayed gratification (I am certain my 2 year old is not the only one who has trouble with this).  3) It is a different sort of art project - one that can be wiped off and done over again as many times as you want with little or no mess.  I am sure there are other things that are at work here, but I am too tired to think of them.  Lucy was really focused during this activity.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

TV-Free Toddler: Washcloth Soup!

Today's TV-Free Activity - WASHCLOTH SOUP!
Materials: A few large bowls, measuring cups, spoons, wash cloths, towels, water, ice cubes, things that float and things that sink
Age: 2-3 years
Time filled: At least 30 minutes, or until the water ends up all over the floor.  I recommend using this as an enticement to keeping the water where it belongs, as in "once the water is gone, we are all done playing."

So this activity might not be for the faint of heart.  It involves allowing you toddler to play with bowls of water inside.  Well, here in the DC area it is an indoor activity, since the weather has turned cold already.  If you are in warm country, feel free to take it outside.

Here's the set up: Lay a few towels down (a double layer might be a good idea).  I had a few extra foam floor tiles, so I put those down as a water poof surface, in a vain attempt to save our hardwood floors.  Fill a few bowls with water of different temperatures.  Put out a bowl of ice, several mixing and pouring implements, and a bunch of wash cloths.  Then start mixing!  We talked about the different color washcloths, how ice is cold while the water was warm, how to blow bubbles with a straw, that the coaster sinks, but an apple floats.  She poured and mixed and splashed and splashed and poured for a good long time.  The main thing to remember in any sensory activity like this is the refrain "The ______ stays in the ______."  The water stays in the bowl, the rice stays in the bucket, the beans stay in the bin, the WATER STAYS IN THE BOWL!  OR AT LEAST ON THE TOWELS!  THE WATER STAYS ON THE TOWELS, Lucy, or WE ARE DONE PLAYING WITH THE WATER!  That is how it goes at our house.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Postpartum Haze: Impressions from Day One

The feeling of his head in my hand as I waited for the last contraction to help push him out.  Angel-soft hair.  Little wiggles - he is moving! - as he works to get his shoulder free and join the world.  A strong wave of pressure, a breathless second, a loud cry, my baby is born into my own hands.

Joy!  The air comes back into my lungs, back into the room.  Labor is over, life is beginning.

Catching my breath.  Lucy is coming up the stairs, walking towards us.  Kevin at my side, kissing my head, welcoming his son.  Slippery little man in my arm, crying his little head off!

Out of the pool, onto the couch on shaky legs, surrounded by loving arms, beautiful women, ecstatic family.  Is this umbilical cord a little short?

I feel triumphant, breathless, strong, a warrior, a goddess!  To say "I did it!" seems trite and silly, but I did it!  I made this!  I birthed my baby, in my own house, on my own terms, letting my body do what it needed to do.  Birth is in voluntary, you just have to allow it to happen.  And I did.

Oh the perfection.  Sweet-smelling, gooey little baby snuggling against my chest.  The warm, safe presence of my husband beside me.

Hungry baby, latching on with no trouble, eat eat eat!

And then Lucy is with us.  What happened to my sweet baby girl?  Who took my little girl and turned her into this GIANT?  She's HUGE!  And what big TEETH she has!  Lucy, "Want MAMA MILK! MINE!"  Meltdown in the works.  Oh dear, here we go.  I am not sure I want to nurse this enormous wolf-child who somehow has replaced my daughter.  But the wolf-child insists and I am blissed out on birth and baby, so have at it kid.

Tandem nursing for the first time.  I am already stark butt naked in front of a roomful of people, why not sling a few boobs around for good measure?

The room clears out, we are alone, me, Malcolm and Kevin.  Admiring our handiwork.  My God, he is perfect.  Are those pointed ears?  Does he really have pointed ears??  My God, he is perfect.  Sweet smelling.  Soft.  Squishy.  Still covered in mayonnaise and goop, but wonderful to see, smell, kiss, cuddle.  Bliss.  Absolute bliss.

Mairi (midwife) makes eggs.  Lots and lots of eggs with cheddar cheese in them.  I devour a heaping bowl.  Then more.  Then toast and pineapple coconut water then chocolate.

I take a delightfully hot shower.  OH GOD I AM SO HAPPY TO NOT BE PREGNANT ANYMORE!  Oh God, what a smooshy, misshapen belly is left over from bring pregnant.  It looks like someone took a purple marker to a lump of sloppy bread dough.  Racing stripes.  Don't look.  There will be time for assessing the damage later.  I am scrubbed and cleaned and in my cozy red bathrobe and snuggled back on the couch to watch Kevin watching his son.  More bliss.

There is a minor amount of poking and prodding and checking and measuring done on me and my girlie parts.  It feels like there must have been an atomic bomb that went off down there.  I am glad I don't have to look at it.  No tears, just a split, just swelling, little bleeding.  Kat (midwife student) says "Seriously, Jenny, I was wondering if you lost any blood at all!  But it's in the placenta."  Oh.  Okay.   

Newborn exam.  Malcolm does not like it.  He's a big boy!  8 lbs, 14 oz!  Lucy watches.  Kat explains to Lucy what she is doing.  Lucy cares very little.  "Want to see Baby Muffin," she says, not fully understanding that Baby Malcolm IS Baby Muffin.  I am now almost certain she thought that my belly button was the baby I was growing in my belly.

Bed, blissful, beautiful, cozy, clean.  My bed.  Ah.  I cuddle up with Malcolm on my chest, skin to skin, and Kevin at my side.  We can hardly sleep for being exhausted.  We can hardly sleep from being so in love.

But sleep overtakes us and afternoon slips into evening.  He sleeps on me all evening, all night long.  I can't think of a sweeter day.