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.

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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.

Potty training

A little while ago I begun some really laid back potty training with Mingli.  He was waking up dry from hit naps, so I bought a comfortable seat adapter for our toilet (I find the little ones that you have to clean out gross) and after his nap he would sit on it either until he went or until he decided he was tired of sitting there.  I never wanted it to be something that he hated, so we sung songs, and I never forced him to sit there.  I figured he was going to take quite a while, and I didn’t want to pressure him at all because he is still so young, but even if he is only using the potty sometimes it will still save money on diapers, which is really nice since we are going to have another baby to be buying diapers for.soon.  I stopped doing it with everything that has been going on lately, but I think it is time to get back to it, and maybe get more serious about it.  Lately he has decided that he thinks it is funny to wet on us while we are changing his diaper, and it is very clear that he is doing it on purpose.  If he has control over himself like that then he is physically ready to be potty trained.  I still don’t want to put pressure on him, that is not going to help anything and will just create stress for both of us, but I am going to start asking him if he wants to go potty more often than twice a day.  I still expect it to take a while, but we will see how it goes.

Happy Easter!

Last night Kaanas and I got our apartment set up with Easter baskets (really simple, just a chocolate bunny, one special treat each, and a few plastic eggs with chocolates) and hid some plastic eggs (with the same chocolate) around our living room (by hid, I mean put around in plain sight so a young toddler could find them).  When Kaanas got home from working the night shift we brought Mingli out to the living room, showed him the baskets, and showed him how to put the eggs in the baskets.  He had a lot of fun gathering the eggs, until he discovered there was chocolate in them, then he just wanted to open them and eat the chocolate.  He was a little upset when we only let him have 1 piece of chocolate and a bite of his chocolate bunny. After our egg hunt and breakfast we called my parents and then watched some Christ centered shows.  It was really a nice, relaxing morning.

Church was pretty hard today.  I was really excited about the lesson I was teaching, and I had come up with some ideas that I thought the children would like.  I did feel like the lesson went really well, and that the children were able to feel the importance of what was being taught and able to feel the spirit.  The only problem was that I was feeling horrible sick all through church, and since Kaanas worked last night and again tonight he was sleeping, so I was teaching alone.  I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it all the way through, but I did.

When we got home we woke up Kaanas and went outside to take Easter pictures.  I think we got some cute ones, and I am excited to send them out to family.  We didn’t have anyone to take a family picture of us, so I set the camera on a picnic table and set it to record.  We recorded ourselves for about 30 seconds, and I am going to go back and take pictures from that video.

In my family our traditional Easter dinner is foods that Christ ate during his life, specifically ones mentioned in the scriptures.  We have fish, mini bread loves and honey, olives, figs, and grape juice.  I loved that tradition, but Kaanas hates fish, so we have been trying to work out a new Easter dinner tradition.  This year we went ahead and had ham and potatoes.  Kaanas cooked it,  because I was really not feeling well.  I was really happy that I was actually able to eat it, but then I wasn’t able to keep all of it down.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!

Tot school

Monday

Our theme for Monday was colors.  My first two activities came from here.  My first one was rather simple, and went really well.  I got some colored stickers and matching colored note cards and let Mingli put the stickers on the note cards.  He loved this activity, but it was pretty challenging for him (which I thought was a good thing).  He has never really used stickers before, and had some difficulty figuring out how to get them to stick to the note cards instead of to his hand.  I didn’t push him, though, this was something he was really interested in and really wanted to figure out.  He finally did, and was really pleased with himself.  After he had managed to get a few stickers onto the paper he took the sticker sheet away from me and started working on getting the stickers off the sheet by himself.  He was also able to figure this out and seemed really happy about it.  He matched the stickers for several minutes, then I could tell he was getting more frustrated.  He seemed to have reached his limit with the stickers, so I asked him if he was done, and he handed me the stickers.  One funny thing about this activity, Mingli did two sheets of stickers, and both sheets he did not want to use the pink stickers.  He used all of the orange and green, then handed the sheet of stickers back to me with all of the pink stickers still stuck to it (I handed it back and wouldn’t give him another sheet until he had finished with all the stickers).  I have no idea why this would be.  We have used pink in other activities and he has never seemed to be against it, but oh well.

            

The next activity was dripping colored vinegar onto baking soda and watching it bubble.  I was using a little medicine dropper so we could put just a few drops on at once, but this isn’t how it happened.  I got Mingli to do a few drops with the medicine dropper, then he took the whole thing of vinegar and dumped it on the baking soda.  He loved this, and then got the other cup and did the same.  I let him, because I realized that this activity was a bit too old for him.  We will revisit it in a year or two.

      

Next was finger painting, of course.  Mingli loved it so much last time that I had to do it again.  Really, it wasn’t what I had planned, I had planned of colored shaving cream, but when I started preparing tot school for the day I realized we were out of shaving cream, so I did finger paint.  We do our finger paint in the bathtub, because I don’t want to worry about the mess.  I figure Mingli needs rules and limits with some things, but he does also need times when he can just make as big of a mess as he wants.  I do this with finger paint in the bathtub.  He dumps the paint out, then paints the tub floor, the walls, and himself.  There are no rules with finger painting, including not eating it, as you can see from the middle picture.  I make my own finger paint by mixing flour and water until it is the right consistency, then adding food coloring.  This means it is completely edible, and as a bonus I have never had it stain clothing.  This time Mingli actually drank the finger paint.  Immediately after he started gagging, because really, how good can water and flour really taste?  But he was able to experiment with it and decide that for himself, which I thought was important sometimes.  In the last picture you can see how messy he is, but you can’t see that his face is also covered (from sticking his face in the bowl and drinking it).  Soon after the last picture was taken we stopped.  When he stood up he started slipping and became scared, so I ended the activity.  Another bonus of doing finger paint in the bathtub, just take off the diaper (I leave the diaper on while finger painting so he doesn’t wet in the tub and ruin the activity) and turn on the water to clean up!  Cleaning up after the finger paint is one of Mingli’s favorite parts because he loves water.

             

 

Tuesday

Tuesday we were supposed to have a friend over for tot school.  I realized that the only aspect missing from tot school was social, we decided to invite a friend over once a week to join us.  They ended up canceling last minute, so tot school on Tuesday was just looking at our family picture cards.  I have taken pictures of all of Mingli’s aunts, uncles, grandparents, and his cousin, cropped them to the right size, printed, then put contact paper on them.  We look at them sometimes and go over people’s names.  Mingli loves this, and our family will love that next time we visit he will know their names!

 

Thursday

Tot school on Thursday was a little difficult.  Mingli was having a really difficult day and spent most of it crying, which is not like him (he has two molars coming in at the same time).  I was hoping tot school would cheer him but, and it kind of did, but not a lot.  Our theme for the day was music.

Our first activity was making music with instruments.  I got out kitchen stuff for drums, and then I got Mingli’s little piano and his two shaker toys.  The kitchen stuff was the favorite.  He wouldn’t let me turn the pots over, he wanted to hit the spoons on the inside of them.  He did explore the other toys, but didn’t stay long on them.

        

I didn’t get pictures of our other activities that day.  We did songs and dancing.  I found an idea here about making a song notebook.  For about a week now I have been gathering songs that I like and want to teach Mingli.  I have been making a page for them with clipart from the internet, and making props to go along with some of the songs.  Thursday I got them out and used them with Mingli.  I gave him two choices at a time and let him pick which song we were going to be singing.  He had fun, but the activity only lasted a little while because of his mood.  Our last activity was dancing.  I turned on some of our baby music and we danced in his bedroom.  Again, this is an activity he enjoys, but it didn’t last long because he wasn’t in a good mood.

We did go to the park and kind of extended tot school to there.  We worked on vocabulary as we talked about trees, sticks, grass, and other nature words that we went over in the fall, but haven’t talked much about during the winter.  We talked about big sticks and little sticks.  We counted on the swings, and Mingli counted with me (he only said two and three, but that was still something).  And we even worked on social skills because there was another toddler who was just two months younger than Mingli.  Park tot school went much better than my planned out tot school.

 

Friday

Friday went much better.  I introduced shapes to Mingli, and he loved it.  He again caught on really quickly.

The first thing we did was I took the top of Mingli’s block shape sorter, put it on the floor, and had Mingli use it like I puzzle.  This was challenging for him, but he was able to do it.  He completed the whole thing a few times as we talked about the shapes.

After Mingli was done with the shape puzzle we moved onto a sorting activity I found here.  Mingli really loves sorting activities like this, they are always a hit.  On the website it had stuff to sort 8 different shapes, but because this was Mingli’s first introduction to shapes I just did 4.  I helped him in the beginning, but he quickly got it.  After that I names the shapes as he sorted them, occasionally correcting him by pointing to the shape he had just placed and naming it, then pointing the the large shape and naming it.  After a while he was able to find shapes when I asked for them.  He did this entire activity twice.

Our final activity of the day, and the most fun, was from here.  I put tape on the floor in the shape of a square, triangle, and circle (all I had was white masking tape, which didn’t show up on our floor, so I used marker on top of the tape), then told Mingli to run to certain shapes.  For the first few I held his hand and ran with him, then after he got the idea I just stood back and told him which shape to go to.  He loved this and was really good at it.  He even started saying the shape names.  This activity lasted until the fire trucks we by our apartment, and then that was it.

 

All in all it was a good week.  For more tot school ideas, visit http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/tag/tot-school-gathering-place/

1 year

Today Mingli is 1 year old. He is learning more and more.  He is learning to stand by himself right now.  The other day he was standing holding onto something, and he looked at me, grinned, then let go.  He stood there for a few seconds, then grabbed back on, grinned, and then did it again.  He was clearly very happy about what he was able to do.  He has also taken a few steps, but he doesn’t really seem interested in walking yet.  We have to really work with him to get him to do it.  Mingli’s favorite toys are cars.  He loves pushing them around, and has even started trying to say vroom vroom while pushing them around like I do.  He has trouble with the vr sound, but gets the oom sound pretty well.  He says mama a lot, and has said daddy a few times, though he has trouble with the d sound.  He also loves books, especially the lift a flap books.  If you lift the flap just the tinniest bit he can open it the rest of the way, then close it again.  When he closes it you are supposed to turn the page, and he will sit waiting patiently until you do, as long as you don’t take too long.  He is eating more and more, and he has two teeth now, finally.  They are his two front bottom teeth, and they came in at the same time.  Mingli is still such a happy baby, and very cuddly.  I can’t believe he is already a year old.  He is quickly turning into a little boy, instead of a baby.  I love him so much, and I am so blessed to have him in my life.

Rocking horse

Kaanas and I bought Mingli a Christmas present. We weren’t meaning to, but we had a couple of things that we needed to get and decided that we would stop by a thrift store first to see if we could get them for cheap. We did find one of the things we were looking for, but right next to it was a small rocking horse, the kind on little wooden rockers. I kind of fell in love with it, and so Kaanas decided to get it. I was hesitant, because it is going to be a little while before Mingli can actually use it, but Kaanas said it would be a great Christmas present. Now I just keep picturing Mingli coming into the living room Christmas morning, not even realizing that anything is different, and then there is this rocking horse sitting there. I am so excited about it. We have a storage shed, so the rocking horse will go there until Christmas. I hope he actually likes it, but I think most children like rocking horses, and Minli will be 18 months at Christmas, so that should be a good age.

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