Friday, September 25, 2015

Keeping a Baby Entertained

So little baby E is getting to be where she isn't so little anymore! Well...she is but she isn't at the same time. She is 9 months old which is crazy for me to think about. I have loved every stage that she has been in (with the exception of the screaming from 1-4am stage), and this one is no different. She can crawl, pull herself up on things, "cruise" along items (bookshelf, couch, ottoman), and has figured out how to get back down to the ground. *For what seemed like the longest time she would pull herself up, be there for a bit and then look at me and get upset as if she was thinking "Well, why haven't you helped me down to the ground yet?" Needless to say, I am grateful that she can now get herself back down and continue on her merry little way.*

She loves to explore and tries her hardest to be sneaky in order to crawl under the computer desk and play with the wires and cables. I mention the sneakiness because she will seriously wait until I am doing dishes or something and then she makes a mad dash for the desk. It's incredibly hilarious.

Along with her inquisitive nature comes the "I've already played with my toys so I'm going to come crawl on you but only when you're in the middle of doing something else"-ness. Which means that I have to be at the top of my game coming up with ways to keep her entertained and interested in various activities. Maybe if you're a new mom then you'll find some inspiration from my ideas, or better yet, chime in and tell me what else you do to keep your little one entertained all day every day.

As with anything else, when in need of inspiration (organization, style, meal ideas, etc.) I first turn to Pinterest. Doesn't everyone?? I found some great ideas that you can check out on my board here. That very same day I put some of those ideas to use! Namely, putting rice in a container and handing it over to her. She was thrilled. I was able to make dinner that night with minimal interruption. I was thrilled. But seriously, putting rice into any container and allowing your baby to play with it is incredibly simple for you and satisfying for baby!

The following are a few things I have done so far in order to keep the little one entertained, and I am mostly wanting to document this for future reference for myself. ;) Maybe some of you other (and future) moms can gather some ideas--Pin away!

1. Sensory Bottles
Graham brings water bottles home from time to time and they are the perfect size for filling. We currently have four that are filled with various things: brightly colored buttons, rice, pink fabric roses, and blue beads (from a necklace that was broken). They range from quiet to loud, and I'll talk with Evie about the differences between them when she plays with them.

2. Fill and Dump
Evie's current developmental stage includes what is called "fill and dump." It's where the baby will repeatedly remove objects from a container and then put them back in. To be more accurate, I'd say that Evie is currently in the dump stage. Because this is so entertaining for her, I try to cater to it as much as possible. She has a bookshelf in her room and I leave the bottom two shelves (the ones she can reach) filled with items that she can play with: board books, baby toys, stuffed animals, wooden puzzles, etc.. She can seriously spend 20-30 minutes pulling everything from the shelves and crawling around in the wreckage.

I'll recreate this in the living room during the day by placing items (books, toys, most recently pumpkins) on a small stool that we have. She loves the stool because she can stand up with it and get back down easily, so I help make it more interesting to her :) Even when she is upset/sad this activity is a big hit.

3. Themed Basket
Although Evie is a little young to fully appreciate how great of a mother I am by having themed items for her to play with (heh), this is a big hit as well. Originally I put several plastic Easter eggs inside of a container for her to play with (which she loved!). One day I was watching her play with them, thinking how perfect they would be for Spring/Easter. Then I thought that I could create some great Fall items for her to play with. And by create, of course, I mean buy at Hobby Lobby. I could seriously spend all of my money there. It wouldn't even be that difficult.

Right now her "Fall Basket" contains the following: pumpkins (3 designs, can be used for sorting when she is older), Halloween jewels bottle, container with feathers, books (she didn't have any board books about Fall, so I grabbed any that were orange), and a stuffed animal. These items provide variety in sound and texture which I love!

4. Go Places 
I know some moms will go to Target (or another store, but it always seems to be Target that I hear/read about) to get out of the house/kill time/keep baby happy, but I only like to go to the store when I am in need of something/have a specific purpose in mind. With that being said, I still love to get out and do things! When Graham is at work, I try to get out of the apartment with Evie at least once. Sometimes, it's in the form of an errand like grocery shopping or visiting the library.

Scout is a therapy dog that visits the children's library twice each month.
Children are able to practice reading books to him (and are able to pet him!).  

Other times it is going to the park or simply taking a walk or swinging outside of our apartment (our apartment is right next to a little pavilion/gazebo that has a picnic table and metal porch swing).

Evie loves being outside. She gets so excited. I love it! We've had some nice weather, so we have been venturing outside to do things other than just going swimming (but swimming is great when it's hot!).

By getting out of the apartment we both experience a change of pace that is beneficial. On days when she is fussy or cranky at home, we can go to the library and she'll have a blast playing with the puzzles, blocks, and toys that are there. Going places is great because everything is new and exciting (and when you get back home her toys seem new again). I often to get the opportunity to interact with others while we are out and about, so it is a plus for me too :)

I hope that you enjoyed the pictures of little E in this post, if nothing else ;) ALSO. If you are a fantasy lover and haven't read the Mistborn series by Brandon need to put it at the top of your list. I can't believe it has taken me so long to get to these books! (Although a major plus was that the first three, which are their own trilogy, are all out so I didn't have to do any waiting with cliffhangers.) Now I'm off to continue reading. Only 100 or so pages left in book 3 (The Hero of Ages) of the series!!

From Marissa, with love.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Labor Day Weekend 2015

**I'm just now posting this because I was waiting on some pictures. I'll add them at a later date! I wrote this initially on Tuesday, September 8. I have since finished reading Misborn: The Final Empire and am on to book 2 in the series.**

Happy September! We have a storm blowing through so we have cooler weather again right now. Wooh! Evie had a little bug and was feeling sickish for a few days but is feeling better now. It was a difficult for me because she was waking up several times a night and I have gotten used to being able to sleep straight through the night! Thankfully, my mom and little sister were up here for a visit so there were extra hands willing to hold and play with Evie :)

Since we had family up visiting (my mom tries to come up once a month to get in baby time) we stayed at home mostly. With my mom and sister we went to the pool, played board games, and kept Evie entertained (as much as possible). My mom is taking a couple of college classes this semester so she had to work on some homework and studying. While she was doing that, Camille (my little sister) and I talked lots about books! Speaking of, she brought me her set of the Mistborn series (there are 4 books out in the series currently). I started reading the first one, Mistborn: The Final Empire, on Saturday and I'm halfway through it. (Since we had company I didn't read too much over the weekend.) All I want to do is read. It's honestly been a while since I've read a book that I did not want to put down! But don't worry, I still take care of Evie. Although, I have been known to read out loud to her and hand her a board book so she can "follow along," heh. It works with marginal success depending on how tired she is. I typically will do that if she wakes up from a nap while I am in the middle of a section/chapter, and I try to read out loud to her to get at least to the end of the paragraph. If she's enjoying it or happy to be playing on her own, I will read until I can finish the chapter or section.

So here's a day by day breakdown of the weekend.

Friday: Mom and Camille arrived late on Thursday, so Friday was basically their first day of this visit. Graham was working so it was just us girls! We slept in and mostly stayed at the apartment. We went to the pool in the afternoon and Mom took lots of pictures for her photography assignment. I love the face she is making in the picture on the left (where she is eating on her hat's strap).


We decided that since Camille's birthday was the following week that we should make a cake, so we went to Walmart before dinner to gather the necessary supplies. Graham got home around 7:45, we had dinner and put Evie to bed like normal, and then we had cake!! It was incredibly delicious. I'm so glad that I found the recipe on Pinterest. (Upon showing the pictures of the cake to Camille, she was sold on it as well.)

Saturday: We met up with Graham's family (parents, sister, and nephew) down at "Camp David" (the property his parents own) and had fun there for the day. We played some card games, Candyland (Camille's first time to ever play! And that's an IBC rootbeer in the photo, folks), and took turns shooting Graham's deer rifle. Camille had the best shot--bulls-eye! Graham also got out on the dirt bike for a little while.

We ordered pizza for dinner and picked it up on our way home. When we got home we took Evie's temperature and she had a fever :( She had been kinda cranky/fussy during the day and felt warm, so we were thinking that she might be sick. After she went to bed Graham, Camille, and I finished our game of Settlers of Catan (Camille won).

Sunday: Graham stayed home from church to be with Evie (she was still running a low-grade fever and we didn't want to expose anyone at church to it). Mom and Camille came with me to church and we had a good time (as is to be expected!). That afternoon we went to Graham's parents' house to hang out and have dinner. Evie was starting to feel better by this time but still wasn't back to her normal self.

Monday: Mom and Camille left after breakfast in order to go spend time with my other sister (Rebecca) before heading back home (Rebecca had class and was working the other days they were here). Graham, Evie, and I had a lazy morning and afternoon--playing with Evie when she was awake. When she was napping, I read (cause remember I started Mistborn!) and Graham played a computer game. (We also finished watching season 3 of The Legend of Korra. Now on to season 4!)
That night we went down to Lake Fayetteville for a bike ride with Graham's parents. Graham pulled Evie and his nephew in a double bike trailer behind his bike. They both were calm during the ride but as soon as we stopped Evie started crying. Ignore the sweaty messes that make up me and Graham and check out that pouty face Evie is giving. Next time we need to remember to take pictures before the ride, hah.

From Marissa, with love