Using meal times

Mingli always takes much longer to eat than I do, but I don’t like to just leave him sitting at the table alone when he is finished.  He likes having us with him.  Up until now this has meant that after I finish eating I just sit there waiting for him to finish.  I got an idea on another blog recently and today I tried it out.  When I finished eating, way before Mingli as usual, I pulled out a book and began reading to him.  I decided to go with a book that he would normally have trouble sitting through, so I pulled out the original Winnie The Pooh book and started reading that to him.  In college I learned that there are a lot of benefits to reading chapter books to young children, but it is only good if the child is enjoying it.  Today was just trying it out, seeing if he would enjoy a long book like that, and he did.  We only got through 2 pages this morning before he was done eating, but he was actually paying attention to the book as I was reading it.  As long as he continues to enjoy it I think this will become a tradition.

Snack baskets

I have been struggling lately with food for Mingli during the day.  He really needs 3 meals and 3 snacks a day to stay happy, and it is really hard for me.  I do it, I am not going to let him starve, but often we are not eating very well.  I am still coming up with good solutions for the meals, but we have found something that I think will work really well for snacks.  Monday Kaanas and I went to the store and bought a bunch of snacks, especially ones that I am ok with Mingli eating often.  This morning I took all of those snacks and separated them into individual Mingli-sized servings and put them into snack bags.  We got 2 plastic baskets from the dollar store, one big and one small one.  The small one is now sitting on a low shelf that Mingli can get to and contains snacks that I am ok with him eating pretty much whenever he wants.  Right now we have some fruit pouches (they are in the baby food section, but have just purred fruit in them.  Kind of like apple sauce, but lots of different fruits, and they are drinkable so toddlers can feed themselves.  The one Mingli had this morning was strawberry, pear, apple, and pineapple), raisins, fruit and grain bars, whole grain crackers, and 1 bag of teddy grahams( I know, not the healthiest).  I only put a couple of each in there so Mingli can easily see his choices and not get too overwhelmed.  This also gives Mingli a bit more choice over what he eats.  All of the rest of the snacks, including snacks that I don’t want Mingli to have constant access to, got put in the big basket in a higher cabinet.  Every few days I can take this big basket down and use it to replenish Mingli’s little snack basket.  I can also occasionally give him some of the special treats in that basket.  I had the baskets ready when he woke up from his nape and needed a snack, so I showed him where it was and let him pick what he wanted.  When it was time for his bedtime snack we told him to go pick something and he immediately ran in and got something.  So far his favorite seems to be the fruit pouches, which makes me super happy, so we are getting more of those.  I am really excited about this and feel like it is going to make the days easier.

FHE, about Jesus

I’ve recently realized that Mingli is old enough to start understand some of the basic things that our church teaches and that wee believe, so I have been looking for good ways to teach him at his level.  Yesterday after Kaanas got home from work we went out to Deseret Book and got Mingli a My First Book Of Mormon Stories board book.  It is really simple and meant to toddlers.  I am wanting to start reading some to him every night.  We also bought him a couple of little pictures of Jesus with children.  When we got home we had a simple family home evening lesson.  In our church we are counseled to have family home evening every Monday night.  It is a time when families can gather together and learn about the Gospel, do service, and just spend time together.  Kaanas and I have not been very good about doing this, but with Mingli getting older we thought this would be a good habit to get into and a good time to teach him about what we believe.  I showed him the pictures of Jesus one by one.  As I did Kaanas and I helped him point out Jesus and say His name.  I told him over and over, with each picture, “Jesus loves Mingli.”  He seemed to actually be getting it, and he seemed to really enjoy it.  After the lesson we took the pictures and hung them on the wall above Mingli’s crib so he can see them as he is falling asleep and when he wakes up.  We will probably repeat this lesson at some point, maybe many times, and I want to add in more about Jesus as Mingli begins to understand more.  I am really excited about how this lesson went, and especially that Mingli seemed to enjoy it.

Mingli’s eating problem

We have been having trouble with Mingli eating lately.  Mostly he just throws his food on the floor and doesn’t hardly eat anything.  We have tried lots of different things to get him to eat, but I think we may have finally found something that works, having him sit at the table with us.  The last few meals we have used his high chair like a booster seat and no food or dishes have been thrown on the floor and his food has actually been eaten.  There hasn’t even been a lot of playing with food going on.  I am really glad we have found such a simple solution to this problem and I hope it keeps working.

Undressing

Mingli learned how to take his pants and diaper off quite a while ago, but yesterday he reached a new milestone, taking his shirt off.  He had been trying to take it off all morning, working hard to get one arm out of the sleeve, but he would always get stuck and I would have to untangle him.  Whenever I untangled him I would put his shirt back on, but that never seemed to discourage him, he just started trying again.  After quite a while of this I watched as he finally managed to get the first arm out of the sleeve, and from there it was a piece of cake to get it up over his head and completely off.  He was so proud of himself and ran back to his room, waving his shirt behind him.  When I followed him back to his room he had already gotten his shirt drawer open, picked out a new shirt (well, actually a romper, but I keep them in the same place), and was trying to get it on by himself.  He quickly gave up and decided to just run around without a shirt.

Mingli’s sleep

Well, it has been a long journey, but I think we have finally done it.  For the last several months we have been working on transitioning Mingli from co-sleeping with us every night, and nursing/rocking to sleep every night and nap, and waking up every night to nurse (yes, at 15 months he still woke up every night to nurse), to sleeping in his own bed, all night, and falling asleep laying down in his bed by himself.  It has taken a long time because I refuse to leave Mingli in his room to cry it out, so we have had to move slowly and take lots of little baby steps.  There was some crying, but we helped him work through it.

First we started having him sleep in his crib beside our bed with the side off.  This was actually one of the hardest stages because I had to keep putting him back in his bed every time he crawled over to ours.  We actually eventually gave up on this and put the side up on his crib and made him sleep in it.  This involved quite a bit of crying, but he was still laying right next to me, and I would rub his back, hold his hand, sing to him, all that stuff.  We were weaning him at the same time, which actually went a lot better than I had expected it to.  Eventually he got to the point where he would sleep in his crib beside me all night without waking up and crying.  When he got good at this, we moved the crib to his room.  For the first week of him being in his own room I slept on an air mattress on the floor, but I was away from his crib.  After a week he was used to this and doing really well.  I was nervous about moving back to my room, I thought I’d be getting up a lot to calm him down when he woke up and I wasn’t there, but this was actually the easiest stage.  He didn’t even seem to notice that I wasn’t sleeping in the room with him and just kept sleeping through the night.  It was pretty great.  Once he was consistently sleeping through the night in his own room we started trying to get him to fall asleep in his crib.  First we rocked him until he was almost asleep, then laid him down in his crib to finish falling asleep.  He didn’t like this much at first, but got used to it.  Then we started laying him down with less and less rocking, until we were laying him down with no rocking at all.  This was actually pretty hard, because he would cry if we left the room, so we sat in a rocking chair in the corner until he fell asleep, which sometimes took 1 1/2 hours.  We realized that not having a bedtime routine was making this more difficult.  He didn’t have time to prepare for bed, or settle down, or anything.  One minute he was playing, and the next he was being put into bed.  Once we started using a bedtime routine the amount of time it took for him to fall asleep got a lot shorter.  Once he was falling asleep in his bed we started leaving to room for very short periods of time, then for longer and longer periods of time.  Then it got to the point where we were just coming in to check on him occasionally.  At this point we still hadn’t done anything with his naps, because it was harder for him to settle down during the day because it was still light outside.  We came up with a naptime routine, but then instead of just leaving Mingli in his crib to fall asleep we gave him some books to look at.  This worked perfectly, and he laid down quietly in his bed until he fell asleep.

Now at bedtime we clean his room, have a snack, go potty, take a bath, put lotion on his, read 3 stories, say good night to, I close the blinds and he gets to turn out the lights, then he goes into bed with his pillow, blanket, puppy, bear, and sippy cup.  We leave soft music playing and he is usually asleep in 10-30 minutes.  For naptime we have lunch, clean his room, go potty, read 3 stories, then he goes to bed with his pillow, blanket, puppy, bear, sippy cup, and the 3 stories he had me read to him.  We again leave soft music playing.  It takes him a little longer to fall asleep for his nap, usually about 1/2 an hour, but he lays quietly in his room by himself looking at his books until he falls asleep.

I know there will be set backs.  He was sleeping in our bed again just last week because he was sick and having trouble sleeping, and I expect there will be nights where he wants us to stay with him until he falls asleep, or times when he has nightmares, or whatever.  But I am excited that we have gotten to the point where he has developed this skill, it makes our life so much easier.  In fact, last night after I read him his stories he ran right to his crib and tried to climb in.  He knew it was time to lay down and he actually wanted to.  He is getting so big.

Tot school!

We actually did tot school this morning!  I am super excited that we were finally able to get back to it.  Today we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  This is one of Mingli’s favorite books, so this was fun.

As we read the book we counted the foods the caterpillar was eating.  Usually Mingli always skips 1 when he is counting, but today he actually said 1!

I thought I would take a picture of a couple of our song sheets since I talked about them last time.  You can also see the props for Old McDonald, they are just different animals that we spread and Mingli gets to choose which ones we sing about.  Yes, we use an elephant, that is actually Mingli’s favorite animal noise.

I tried a counting activity that I got from here.  I even made pom pom magnets for it.  Mingli did not get it at all.  He wanted to put the magnets just all over the paper instead of where they were supposed to go.  I modeled what I wanted him to do, but when it became clear that he wasn’t interested I just let him play with the magnets.  He has never used magnets before, so honestly some exploratory play with magnets was really valuable.

I made a feed the caterpillar game like on this post.  We laid out the foods to count them, but Mingli wasn’t interested.  He just wanted to feed the caterpillar, so that is what we did.  He ended up knocking the box over and feeding the caterpillar with it laying down, and then this turned into a great problem solving activity because he wanted the food back out.  First he tried to get it out through the mouth, then he tried sticking his arm in the opening on the bottom, but his arm wasn’t long enough.  Finally he figured out how to dump them out.

Next I tried a tracing sheet from here.  Mingli has never done anything like this, and I wasn’t sure how it would go.  I printed off 2, one for me to model with and one for him.  He completely ignored the lines he was supposed to trace and just wanted to color.  I figured that might happen, and I was fine with it.  The green marker lid was really hard to him to get off.  I ended up taking it off, then putting it back on much looser so he could take it off himself.

Wow, looking back, not a thing went like I had planned.  Mingli didn’t participate in a single activity the way I had intended, but it was a great time with lots of exploratory play and valuable learning.  I’m glad that I was able to be laid back about it and just go with what Mingli wanted to do, otherwise this tot school time would have been a very frustrating experience for both of us.

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