Sensory Bottles

There are so many toys and gadgets out there that promote “learning” or “skills development” in infants. On top of that is all of the advice, “If you don’t do x by his first birthday you might as well quit now!” We don’t really need to go into examples; you all know what we are talking about.

With the excess of information it can be hard to sort through it all to figure out what works for you, but T decided to try one she’d read about – a sensory bottle. (M said – “a what???”) You may ask- Why make a sensory bottle when my kid is just as happy with the empty potato chip bag? It’s a good question. T’s son loves an empty chip bag, and it’s a super cheap toy. But she also wants to expose him to other sensory items and she loves to craft so why not.

After countless hours of googling and reading advice, T finally decided to give these sensory bottles a try. Mostly because she had all of the equipment at home and didn’t need to go to the store. M, for her part, doesn’t really “get” the sensory bottles. She understands the concept behind them, and admittedly thinks they are very pretty. But she disagrees with some of the advice that comes with them – “You must have your kids play with sensory bottles or they will never graduate from preschool!” M thinks sensory bottles might just be a new invention to stress out/guilt parents. Particularly working parents and/or parents with multiple kids. 🙂

So we give you this craft with our own advice: Do it because you like crafting, or because it’s fun, or because you wanted something to do with your kids. Don’t do it just because someone told you your kid would fall behind if he or she was not exposed to sensory bottles at a young age.

We are actually going to show you two slightly different bottles. The first one creates a “galaxy effect”. The second one is more of a traditional sensory bottle in that you can shake it and the items in the center float around like a lava lamp.

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Easy Basic Sensory Bottle

  • Glitter*
  • Clear Glue
  • Water
  • Plastic Bottle
  • Items to float (I used jewels, marbles, and purple mesh tubing

*M: Good Lord, Tanner, who wants glitter in their house???)

Step 1: Fill bottle about half way with water. Then pour in your entire bottle of clear glue. Close the cap on the bottle and shake until combined.

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Step 2: Add some glitter and your objects to the bottle. Top off with water if needed.

Step 3: Seal the cap back on tight. (You can tape this down or glue it if needed.) Shake until glue and water are combined and Tah Dah!

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Galaxy Bottle

  • Plastic Bottle
  • Baby Oil*
  • Glitter
  • Purple and blue food coloring
  • Cotton balls
  • Straw
  • Water

*I used sunflower oil because that’s what I had. I think baby oil would be better.

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Step 1: Fill a measuring cup with about 1 1/2 C. of water. Drop blue and purple drops of food coloring in until you get a nice indigo color (or whatever color makes you happy!) I used about 6 drops of purple and 4 drops of blue.

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Step 2: Fill your plastic bottle about half way with oil. Add your water so the plastic bottle is now about 3/4 of the way full. Secure the lid and shake until the water and oil have mixed some.

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Step 3: Open it back up. Slightly unravel your cotton balls and start stuffing them in. I used the straw to push them to the bottom. I used about 1/3 of the bag of cotton balls.

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Step 4: Put your lid back on and shake until combined.

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** You can add other items to your galaxy if you want. Just use a little less water and oil so there is room. I added silver mesh tubing as something my son can find when playing with it.

Happy Crafting!

xoxo, T&M

 

Valentine’s Cookies

Likely you know Valentine’s Day is next week? Some people look forward to the holiday while others dread it. Many of you tout it as a Hallmark holiday. Regardless of your feelings, it is here to stay, so you might as well embrace it instead of being a curmudgeon (M will continue to be a curmudgeon about it).

For several years now T has hosted Friendsentine’s Dinner. It started almost a decade ago to make sure everyone felt included on Valentine’s day, much like it was back in elementary school. Really that’s the way it should be! Celebrate all the love in your life not just the romantic one. Typically, our group of friends goes to dinner at a new or “hot” restaurant around town. This year we are headed to Public School 214. Braden and I have been before and we love their bacon cheddar tater tots! T is super excited about dinner, and she always brings a treat with her for all the guests. She had been looking for a fun treat to attach to her Llama themed valentines and went with the recipe below!

Meanwhile, M is melting down upstairs because the valentines her kids picked can no longer get here in time for Valentines day. Amazon get it together! You are supposed to be the most amazing shopping center. I guess that’s what happens when every mom in America has that Prime membership.

So now we both need valentines and/or treats. SO dun dun dunnah! Enter these delicious Valentines Cookies. This is a recipe idea adapted from a Pinterest find. This sugar cookie recipe is the one T uses for Christmas cookies. It takes NO time to chill, which is amazing. and produces great dough for cookie cutting.

So here you go! For all of your Valentine’s needs next week. PSA…be careful. T ate the entire batch…by herself, which was NOT Weight Watchers friendly!

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Valentines Day Cookies

1 C Unsalted butter, softened

1 C granulated sugar

1 Large egg, room temperature

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp Salt

2 tsp Baking Powder

3 C all purpose Flour

Pink Gel Food Coloring (or red or purple!)

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using your mixer, beat the butter and sugar until combined. Mixture should be light and fluffy!

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Step 2: Beat the egg, vanilla, and almond extract into the mixture. Be sure to scrape the sides if needed to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. In a separate bowl combine the salt, baking powder, and flour.

Step 3: While mixing, gradually add your flour mixture a little bit at a time until flour is fully combined. (*I usually dump about 1/2 c. at a time)

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Step 4: Gather your dough into a ball. Break off half of it and set aside in a bowl. Leave the other half in the mixer. Add your gel food coloring. YOU DON’T NEED MUCH. Add a few drops at a time and mix until fully combined. Add additional drops as needed to get your desired color. (Keep in mind that the final product will be slightly lighter than the color of the dough, so you might go a little darker than you think you need).

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Step 5: Make alternating balls of dough on your work space. Once all the dough is out. Gently knead the balls together to mix the color. DO NOT OVER KNEAD! T definitely over kneaded and got more pink than swirl cookies.

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Step 6: Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. On your workspace roll out the dough to your desired thickness (1/4″ typically works the best). Cut out your shapes and place them on the tray.

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Step 7: Bake for 6-8 minutes and enjoy!!! (M says how do you know if it’s 6 or 8 minutes? Well, that’s really hard to say because everyone’s oven cooks slightly differently. You can usually tell by the smell. But the cookie itself should looked cooked and not gooey. If you give the pan a little shake nothing should jiggle. T doesn’t like to wait for the edges to brown because it can detract from the cookie if you aren’t icing it. She advises you start checking at 6 minutes and take out when the cookies appear cooked through and are no longer shiny from the moisture in the batter.)

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This was a great, super easy, recipe that produces absolutely stunning cookies. You don’t need to add anything to it but you could sprinkle with sugar crystals to give them a little oomph.

Happy Eating!

xoxo, T&M

P.S. did you know that if you store cookies with a piece of bread they stay fresher longer? Who knew!

P.P.S. You can even ADD bread to the cookie container once the cookies have gone a little hard and it will soften them right up. Amazing!

 

Humble Parenting

M: I feel extremely lucky to have already had numerous nieces and nephews before I had kids.  I got to see my siblings’ struggles with parenting and some of their successes and failures.  We all still laugh with my sibling over their decision to say “it’s best that we not” instead of “no” to their kids.  That lasted about 2 weeks. One child reaching for an electrical socket with a paper clip?  Yeah, “it’s best that we not” didn’t have quite the effect of screaming “NO!!!”

One of the biggest things I gained from watching my siblings with their kids was to realize that there is a lot of luck involved.  Sure, we have an influence over our kids – I am not arguing that you don’t – but each kid is different and a decent part of it is just the luck of the draw.

T: I have to agree with this. Although I am the first of my generation (in my family) to get married and have kids, I have 16 first cousins on M’s side alone and am the oldest of 4 kids. I am certainly no expert but I do feel I have been exposed to way more than most first time moms have.

M: If I hadn’t had the experience with my nieces and nephews, I would have thought I was mom of the year with my first born – and possibly with my second as well.  I would have been preaching all kinds of advice for other people.  We are amazing parents! Look at us!  This parenting thing is not so hard at all!

T: Wait….I’m not mom of the year? 😉

M: Luckily, we both know better.  Some kids are easy, some kids are more challenging, some kids have more “personality” (I’m being nice here), some kids are more difficult from the day they are born.  We can help to try to sway them and we can certainly help by using rules, discipline, etc. (a free-for-all rarely turns out well when it comes to raising kids).  But if you have a difficult kid, it’s likely not your parenting that is making them that way.

T: Not going to lie I am absolutely terrified of having a second. I know that the second child could be great, but the second in my family was a terror. And my dad is the second….also a terror. But my 9 month old has been such a chill baby that it can’t possibly be this easy a second time around.

M: Well hold on! None of this is not to say that you just throw in the towel.  It’s important to pay attention to the different needs of each child. I have found that each of my kids needs a different type of parenting.  My first born is a rule follower.  There is no need to yell, no need to harp on mistakes, no need to be overly strict.  She listens to advice (so far), believes in moderation in all respects, and worries about her future.  (When my daughter was about 8 years old, she asked her brother why he didn’t save his money.  She asked “aren’t you worried about things like taxes, insurance, and other expenses?”  Where do kids come up with this stuff?)  Others of my kids are not affected by yelling, are ready to push the rules, and need to have emotional breakdowns.  I don’t have them all figured out and don’t know what to do with each one – I just know that they are different, they each need different things from me, and when they are being more difficult, it’s likely not my fault.  I’m just trying to do my best for each one.  I also know that I’m likely messing up some of the times.  That’s OK. There is no perfect way to parent and no one way to parent.  Do your best and take the pressure off yourself.

T: You always make me feel so much better about messing up. I think one of the best things I’ve learned from you and the other moms in our family is to not sweat the small stuff. I’m still getting to know my son and he’s getting to know me and there are going to be a lot of bumps in the road. And knowing those bumps will be continuing for the foreseeable future…probably more like ever…helps keep me humble. But it does also make me feel good to know when I get things right and can say “Man I #crushed parenting today.”

M: And that’s great! All this is really to say, enjoy your successes – you need them to feel better about the failures.  Just don’t get cocky.  When things are going well, be humble because you never know when another kid will be ready to knock you off your parenting pedestal.  We are all in this together and almost all of us will have our issues with our kids at some point.

T: I also think this is really important to keep in mind as you look at the moms around you. Everyone is in the SAME boat. That meltdown at Target is not their idea of fun and they aren’t letting their kid cry on the plane just because it’s fun. They are trying to figure it all out as much as we are. When my angel baby smiles, waves, and flirts with all of the girls at the restaurant I enjoy it…and also privately brace for a meltdown that could occur literally at any moment…with no notice…because I didn’t serve him bean dip fast enough (#truestory).

Hang in there mamas. Without the bad days you wouldn’t appreciate the good ones. And when you are really at a breaking point just know that it’s a moment and it’s not forever. Do what you can, hope for the best, and try to enjoy the ride!

Happy Parenting

Xoxo, T&M