Thursday, July 31, 2008

Toddler-friendly toy storage solution


Lately I've been getting kinda desperate for a more ideal storage place for Biscuit's toys. We've accumulated so many that we've actually been using his pack 'n play as a catch-all. I also had a few of his odds and ends on a small bookshelf in his playroom but it didn't hold many and I figured it'd be any day now that he'd start trying to climb it. So, since I was working on organizing yesterday in the basement anyway and getting rid of as many old boxes as possible and consolidating stuff into rubber storage tubs, I decided to try to come up with something more practical for the toys. Turns out the bookshelf was helpful after all - I ended up laying it flat on the floor to make a big open "chest" after removing most of the shelves. Then I used 4 more of those empty diaper boxes (the 124 count size, bless 'em!) to fill the space inside the bookshelf. I was so excited that they fit perfectly!! Now all his toys have a "home" - there's a box for balls, another for rolling cars/trucks/etc., and one for misc. small plastic toys. There's still one yet to fill which I'll probably use for soft toys (most of those are upstairs in his bedroom at the moment). Anyway, I didn't want anything heavy for a lid lest Biscuit squash his fingers but I didn't want all the toys always showing either. So I locked some of his extra foam floor mat pieces together and taped it to some pieces of old foam board I had laying around. Now I have a way to cover up the new toy box when it's not being used. Overall here's why I like it:


1. It's not so high anymore should Biscuit decide to climb it, and he can't pinch his fingers.
2. He can't pull out the boxes and dump things all over the floor very easily. (That's why I didn't want to spring for one of those bin organizer systems - I pictured him grabbing the bins and pouring them all over his own head. But with this floor setup he can still reach in to the boxes and get out what he wants.
3. It's too heavy for Biscuit to tip over onto himself, lift up or push around the room.
4. I didn't have to spend hours online searching for exactly what I wanted, on sale, or groaning about the shipping cost, or stressing over the gas prices if I went shopping for it, or trying to figure out how to have it delivered if I found something decent at a yard sale.
4. Since we had the components already around the house, I essentially didn't have to pay for it.
5. It was free!
6. Did I mention this project cost me nothing...as in nada, zilch, not a penny, zipporooney--0$??

Okay...so for toys too big to put into the box, I made several zones in his playroom (for instance, a sports zone for his soccer goal, basketball hoop, baseball toys, etc., and a music zone for his keyboard, xylophone and drum. And so he wouldn't feel like all his toys were banished to the toy box downstairs, I purchased six small stacking bins from Dollar Deals so I could put one "toy-or-book corner" in each room of the house (besides the bathrooms). I plan to rotate these with fresh toys from the box or simply switch the bins from room to room.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Easy-on-the-Budget Boredom Busters :)



Pampers Pegboard?



Yesterday I caught Little Biscuit pounding on a diaper box with one of his toys. So I cut a hole in the box and cut a paper towel tube into several short "pegs." I showed him how he could "hammer" the peg into the hole. He spent a long time working at it! And he already started playing with it again today. Sheesh, I really do think the cheapest and simplest toys are his favorite!

We also used the same diaper box to make an indoor wagon...the only other prop I needed was my red, long-sleeved shirt (tied the sleeves together to make the handle, and Biscuit's weight was enough to hold the shirt on the box without clips or tape).


Our Little Red Wagon


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Suitcase Scavenger Hunt

Just a quick idea for now...
For a twist on hide and seek, I hid some of Biscuit's toys in various pockets and compartments of one of our suitcases. Some I zipped shut, some I didn't. Biscuit liked opening the lid to find goodies inside...and closing it, and opening it, and closing it, and opening it, and climbing inside it!...all to his heart's content :D He also liked playing with the zippers and trying to work them himself. And when he was done searching for surprises, he loved scooting the luggage all over the house - it has wheels so naturally he thought it was a cool push toy :D

Monday, July 28, 2008

"D-Day!"

We were all three excited to welcome back Big Biscuit from his week-long mission trip to Mexico Saturday night :) Before we headed to the airport we decided to decorate one of Little Biscuit's onesies with a simple "welcome back" message for his dad. The picture above shows what we ended up with (since both are big baseball fans). "Daddy's Home" has always been one of Little Biscuit's favorite phrases and he goes running whenever I say it (usually when daddy pulls into the driveway after work). In this case Little Biscuit was asleep when we got to the airport so we had to wait for the reunion until he woke up (which was after we were back at the house). At his first sighting of Big Biscuit, he had mixed emotions - he was obviously thrilled to see his daddy again and wouldn't stop giggling and smiling shyly at him, but he was a bit unsure if he could really believe his eyes enough to touch him ... it didn't take very long until they were in each other's arms though :D

Laughing babies make babies laugh :)


One of the latest fun activities we've discovered combines our mutual love of the laptop and great, clean comedy ;) It involves looking up silly stuff on YouTube :) Our favorite finds, hands down, include these three:


Be warned, if you watch these, get ready to CRACK up! Little Biscuit laughs just about as hard as the kids in the video just watching them (although he's only just getting into it in the little clip shown above where he's watching Ethan on YouTube.)

It's also fun to find videos of real animals making their actual sounds - here's:

some farm animals...
a crazy cat
a barking dog
a mooing cow
a quacking duck
an oinking pig
a bleating goat
a clucking hen...

and for the more exotic...

a laughing hippo
a herd of noisy elephants
a pack of roaring lions

you get the idea :D If there's a "real life" animal sound you want to hear you can probably find it at YouTube :)

Another fun site we like to visit (and Little Biscuit can actually punch buttons himself!) is Fisher-Prices Online Games & Activities - they have one for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Biscuit's fave is the jungle friends peek-a-boo game! :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Old toys, new uses!

As I was considering options for what to do today, I first thought about taking some of Biscuit's old toys to Once Upon a Child (a resale store for anything re: kids) to see if I could get cash out of them. One of the items that I've been especially itching to get rid of is a secondhand exersaucer he's too big for (and it's missing the seat too). It's just been sitting in the basement taking up space. We also really wanted to go swimming today (and preferably not in the plastic bin downstairs collecting water from the a/c leak). We ended up not doing either one...at least, not exactly. I decided not to part with the saucer just yet. It hit me that it might be salvageable...as a makeshift water table! Biscuit's never played with a water table (neither have I for that matter) but I've heard of them from family and seen some at Amazon and Toys 'R Us - and they sounded like big fun. So me and my sis (who's staying with me till Big Biscuit gets home) and Little Biscuit headed to the dollar store for some cheap accessories. We found a big bowl to set up inside the saucer where the seat used to be, a splash disc, some of those "just add water" toys that expand when wet, and an assortment of little water-friendly balls. Back at home, after dinner when the temp cooled down some, we set up the whole ensemble, rigged up the garden hose as a fountain in the middle of it all...and voila! Biscuit had a blast and ended up MORE soaked than he probably would've been had we gone to the pool! He couldn't get enough of the hose spray ;) This activity was definitely the highlight of our day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Coupon clipping and cart-hopping

Biscuit is becoming quite a connoisseur of carts. He began with the standard kid-facing-mom, no frills model but he prefers not to put his legs through the holes. He would rather hang one foot over the top of the handle for optimal comfort, or at least turn sideways in the seat and face the direction of traffic like everybody else. He also recently sampled a variation of the kid-facing-mom style at Dierbergs, which offers a red race car motif along the sides for the more discriminating cart rider, complete with double steering wheels behind the cart handle. Home Depot carries a similar line in orange. But not to be outdone, Schnucks has made available a cart with a car theme too - in this case, a green and yellow ride-in car sporting its own roof and working horns attached to the front of the cart facing traffic. Or, one can choose a train-style cart with a bench as pictured above. So far Biscuit seems to appreciate the race car motif. His least favorite by far is the Kohl's "stroller" style contraption. My least favorite is the train style as it is nearly impossible to maneuver without mowing down innocent bystanders. But we will continue on our quest for the perfect shopping cart (and the best coupons) as the summer goes on. We've been known to go to a store for no other reason than to test drive the carts. Hey, who says it can't still be fun to grocery shop despite high food prices? :)

OH - and to help beat high prices everywhere, check out this site for great deals for various products you may need (search the forums for what you need)! Slickdeals.net

He caught the bug :)

I’m not talking about yet another cold virus (Biscuit is still getting over his last one); I’m talking about the summer reading program at the St. Charles City-County Library District. We read 40 books together over the course of the last month or so to earn some fun prizes. For the first 20 books, he got a bobble-head pullback race car. For the final 20 he got another little colorful, bendy toy but also some bigger prizes like a kid’s meal from Red Robin, two River City Rascals baseball tickets and a certificate of achievement. We had a great time with it and look forward to next year - but of course we’ll be back on Tuesday for more books prizes or not

Here are the books we picked to read for the program (I linked to some of his favorites):

A Tale of Tails; Caterpillar Spring, Butterfly Summer; Curious George at the Zoo; That’s Not My Tractor; My First Book of Animals; All About Baby; Peek-a-Boo Bedtime; Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? Biscuit; Quack, Quack, Who’s That?; God Bless Me; Yawn Like a Hippo!; Winnie the Pooh (Feelings); Thank You (Give Thanks series); Snuggle Up; Sesame Street Baby Party; Sweet Dreams; Numbers with Farm Animals; I Love My Daddy; Sing Praise; The Happy Man and His Dump Truck; Blessing (Give Thanks series); Love You Forever; Praying (Give Thanks series); The Jolly Barnyard; Hush, Little Baby; Guess How Much I Love You; My Little Golden Book About God; Curious George the Movie (the book!); That’s Not My Monster; Daddy Loves Me; Gallop!; That’s Not My Bunny; ABC; Cuddly Baby; No, No, Yes, Yes; Hide-and-Seek Baby; I Can, Can You?; That’s Not My Train; Goodnight Faces

to blog or not to blog?

One part of me is totally thrilled to blog…another part (just an eensy part though!) feels kinda guilty that I could be using this time to do something more productive, say, wash dishes or fold clothes (since blog time is almost always aka Biscuit’s naptime). So because I’m not the kind of person to enjoy a lot of guilt hanging around, I want to make this blog time as useful as I can. So I’ll set myself a few ground rules: no blogging while Biscuit is awake and active, wanting my attention. I’ll blog only during naps or when he’s drinking his bottle or playing happily by himself. And I won’t spend copious amounts of time at it - the thirty-minute rule applies. Also: I won’t put the blog before quiet time w/ God. Period.

Another way I can make this blog helpful is: use it as my new motivation to think of fun activities to do with Biscuit and share with all you toddler mommies and daddies out there. So my goal (at least while he's a toddler) is to offer free toddler ideas - money-saving tips, toddler games, fun places to take your toddler, indoor playtime activities for toddlers, parenting advice and my day-to-day adventures in motherhood. (If you’re like me you’re constantly looking for creative ways to spend time with your kids besides playing the usual hide-n-seek, blocks and peek-a-boo. We’ll try to think up some fun ideas of our own and pass them on after we try them out. They’ll probably be biased toward ideas for boys since that’s the way it is, but feel free to adapt as needed for your own playtimes :) Alrighty, without further adieu, here is today’s contribution:

The Tickle Truck in TP Town
We constructed a network of toilet paper highways around the house today and I showed Biscuit how to drive a small toy truck around “town.” At the end of a “road” it was fun to drive the truck onto bumpier terrain up and down Biscuit’s legs, arms, back and tummy–tickling all the way!
oh, and TP by the way, crumpled up, also makes great loads of dirt for toy dump trucks!

A week to remember :)

Well, it’s been something of a tough week with Big Biscuit in Mexico and Little Biscuit missing him on top of a nasty cold, so I wanted to write down some of the happier highlights to cheer us all up!

Okay, so here they are: the top 10 most memorable events of the past seven days around our
house:

10. In mid-preparation of applesauce meatloaf we realize we are out of eggs, necessitating a near- world-record-setting speed run to the store.

9. I decide to try out an unadjusted reel mower on our front yard during Biscuit’s naptime which
happens to be around noon (and yes, this is a Missouri summer).

8. Biscuit discovers the meaning of “slippery” while chasing the bar of soap around the bathtub.

7. Biscuit further discovers “slippery” as he goes headfirst down a slide for the first time.

6. Biscuit continues his new hobby of finding his belly button on command.

5. His next favorite hobby becomes looking for yours.

4. Biscuit gets the hiccups during lunch. Every time one hits (which is usually during a big, sloppy
bite of peas), he almost chokes laughing.

3. The homemade spicy sweet potato fries my sis tries to cook turn out to be, um, let’s say, very smoke-flavored sweet potato briquettes.

2. Biscuit jumps off his seat as an unexpected loud burp from his aunt scares him half to death; I’m not sure what was funnier - his initial shocked reaction or the 10 minutes of hysterical laughter (from both of them!) that followed.

1. Biscuit uses his newfound skill of pointing to acknowledge the cars beside us as we wait at a red light; unfortunately he only knows how to point with his middle finger.