Documenting Gratitude in 2021.

Earlier this week, I talked about how I failed to even remember 2020’s word of the year. I also didn’t keep up with something that was important to me.

I’m sure you’ve seen it on some type of social media, but it’s a gratitude jar. Every day or week, you write down something that made you feel grateful. Last year, I tried to do every day and I succeed until March.

This year, I’m challenging myself to one every week. Plus, Mila is going to be accountable to tell me what made her smile this week.

I want Mila to know she’s important and that she has a big space in our home. Even though she told me chocolate milk was the best part of last week… which is also funny if you read yesterday’s post.

Anyways, every Sunday, Mila and I are going to have a little chat about our week. Whatever we’re thankful for, I’ll write it down. Then, I’ll keep it locked up tight in our jar.

By the end of the year, there will be 52 or more pieces of gratitude on paper.

Hopefully, this will make the both of us smile. If 2021 is relatable to 2020, we’ll need the moments of gratitude next New Year’s Eve.

Have you thought about ways to document this next year? I’m also keeping a journal too.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Six.

It’s 2021 and toddlers are still weird as ever; especially mine

Sometimes I’m shocked by her new phrases and what she comes up with. Her latest proclamation has me constantly giggling though.

If you didn’t know, Mila is still nursing. She’s not ready to stop and I’m just following her lead. Now that she can talk and understand what I’m asking her, she’s let me know more about her experience with ‘boobie.’

Curious to why she likes it and still wants to nurse, I asked her a specific question. What does it taste like?

Without any thought, she told me it tastes like chocolate milk. But, she likes boobie milk better.

Since chocolate milk is her go to drink, I guess I’ll take her comment as a compliment. At least I somewhat understand why there isn’t an end to nursing in sight.

Kids say the darndest things, right? Or maybe my toddler is just super weird.

Zucchini and Chicken Casserole Recipe

The first recipe of the new year was a crowd favorite for my family. Mila even stole bites from my plate!

It’s a tasty, low prep meal that will become one of your family’s favorites.

Here’s the ingredients:

  • Rotisserie chicken
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 box of chicken stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • Cheese

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a basking dish.

While it’s preheating, melt the butter and then, in a bowl, mix it with the chicken stuffing mix. I added a little more butter to this, but do what you think works best. Set aside half of this combination for the topping.

Then, pull and shred your rotisserie chicken. Make sure to get out all of the bones. You could also use chicken breast or thighs too.

Next, dice your zucchini in bite sized pieces.

After everything is cut, combine the chicken, zucchini, cream of chicken soup, and sour cream to one of the stuffing halves.

Mix it up and then spread this to your baking dish. Add the other half of the stuffing mixture and cheese on top.

Put it in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 40 minutes or until it’s warm through and the top is golden brown.

One of the best part of this recipe, besides it being easy and tasty, is Mila was able to easily help me make it! Cooking with her most nights creates memories I know I’ll never forget.

I love finding meals she enjoys making and eating to keep her interested in cooking.

If you try today’s recipe, let me know what you think in the comments!

Toddler Activity: Fireworks Before Midnight Experiment

Let’s first start this off by saying… HAPPY NEW YEAR! We’re not quite there yet, but oh so close.

Mila and I did fireworks at noon, in case she doesn’t stay up. Its a little science experiment that I thought I’d share here. We did it a few times, if that gives you a time estimate.

It was fun and Mila loved helping too!

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • Jar
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Oil

Yes! It’s that easy.

All you do is fill up the jar with water. Put the food coloring in the oil. Then, slowly pour it in.

The food coloring escapes the oil and creates ‘fireworks.’ Mila thought they looked like different things. It made me smile to know she’s connecting so many different things.

I took a video of our experiment and wanted to post it here.

Again, Mila and I hope you have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve!

Toddler Activity: 2021 Sticker and Writing Activity

Two posts in one day, oh my!

Anyways, Mila is getting more and more into drawing and tracing letters and shapes. I haven’t really sat down and did a full activity with her yet, so I wasn’t too optimistic about how this would go.

I made three different pages for Mila to do.

The first is a sticker activity.

Is anyone else’s toddler obsessed with stickers or is it just mine?

I knew if the other two activities didn’t work out, she’d love putting stickers on this big piece of paper.

All I did for this was tape two pieces together and write ‘2021’ in marker.

The goal of this activity is for your toddler to put stickers along the numbers. It helps them get the hang of the shape of the letter without writing it. Plus, they’ll be using motor skills by taking the stickers off and putting them along the lines.

She might not have put all of the stickers on the letters, but stickers are always a hit with Mila!

The next activity is writing. There’s a bubble number one. For this one, they just practice their numbers inside the letter. It’s just to get them familiar with it.

Honestly, this is more Mila’s speed. She did her best with trying to draw it and I think she did well.

The final page was way too challenging for Mila, but a good way to keep numbers familiar for her. I ended up asking which numbers were where and told her the letters too.

Overall, the sticker activity was a hit and I’ll continue doing similar ones for this stage. The other two I’ll keep doing similar things to see how she progresses with them. One day she’ll be a pro at them.

These can all be made with computer paper at home. The sticker activity gave me enough time to make food and wash dishes!

Hopefully, this can help give you some time to get last minute things done for NYE at home.

If you try this out, let me know in the comments. I’d love to know how it went!

Toddler Activity: DIY Countdown to Midnight Clock

To make the New Year’s Eve day a little more special, I made a countdown clock for Mila. It took a little bit of time, which is why I’m posting today.

You can definitely get help from your kids with this activity, but it’s mostly for adults or older kids to make. Kids of all ages can enjoy when it’s done.

Like most of our activities, I had everything at home. If you don’t, all of these items can be easily bought at a variety of stores.

The supplies:

  • Poster board or craft paper
  • Marker
  • Balloons
  • Confetti (I used scrap paper)
  • Tape
  • Candy or other fillings

The idea of this activity is to celebrate NYE all throughout the day. As each hour passes, kids can pop the balloon and have confetti and whatever else you stuff it with.

If they don’t stay up until midnight, then at least they get some excitement throughout the day!

This project was a little more longer and in depth than our usual ones, but I think she’ll love it when the day comes.

First, draw a big circle on your poster board or craft paper. Then, add the numbers around the circle like a clock. I wrote in the middle of it, but you can personalize it however.

Once that’s done, it’s time to stuff and blow up balloons.

You’ll only need twelve balloons and some come with confetti already in them. That would have been way easier, but I just made confetti by cutting up scrap pieces of paper. This takes a little time, but it looks cute all mixed.

If you are making your own confetti, have your child practice their cutting skills and help you out!

Next, stuff the balloons!

This can be a tricky task. I used a funnel, but there are others ways to do it too.

In addition to the confetti, I added chocolate hearts to the balloons. Mila loves them and she’ll be shocked by the surprise.

After this is done, blow your balloons up and tape them to your clock.

Hang your clock to a wall and enjoy popping them on New Years Eve! Kids who love messes will be excited to make one every hour.

I hope you enjoy this way to celebrate bringing the new year in! If you decide to do this activity, comment your experience. I’d love to hear from you and see pictures.

Toddler Activity: NYE Firework Painting

If you enjoyed last weeks Christmas activities, I have a few New Years ones too!

This first one is a firework painting. Mila loves to paint and experiment with how brushes work. That makes these DIY paint brushes even more interesting for her and toddlers.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • Scissors (kid and adult)
  • Paint
  • Canvas
  • Paper plates

I had all of these supplies at home, but most everything can be easily purchased. Feel free to use whatever color of paint. Mila just picked these three and I added the silver in.

First, you’ll want to cut the paper tubes to make the brush. If your child is learning how to use scissors, guide and help them with this. You can also get this step done beforehand.

We did three different firework shapes to get different looks.

Then, we put our paint on paper plates. Mila poured the red, which might have been a mistake. One recommendation is to spread the paint around. This way when your child pushes down with their brushes, all the bristles get paint on it.

After you get all your desired paint ready, it’s time to start painting.

I let Mila know we were making fireworks because that’s how we celebrate the new year. She’s seen fireworks before, so she understood what they were.

Of course she doesn’t grasp the concept of a new year, but it’s fun to begin those conversations with her.

I did have to show her how to push down on the brush. She got the hang of it pretty quick!

It helped when I really pushed the bristles down to make them more flexible. They are quite stiff at first!

With their finished project, you can either write over top of it or just leave it. Mila ended up making two. The canvas will have ‘2021’ written on it and the paper version will be untouched.

I’ll update this post with a finished picture after her artwork is all dried.

This activity is pretty quick, but a lot of fun. Toddlers and young kids will love making their own brushes. Plus, what kid doesn’t like fireworks without all the noise.

If you try this activity out, let me know in the comments below!

Toddler Activity: Christmas Lava Lamp Experiment

Since I’m on a roll this week, here’s another quick and easy holiday project you can do with your child. Mila loved this activity, but I messed up with it. Oops!

We did this a few days ago, but it’s a DIY lava lamp. The white was supposed to look like a snowstorm and the red is just festive.

I’ll tell you the correct way to do it and how I messed up. Who doesn’t love learning from their mistakes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Oil (you can use any kind, but I used vegetable)
  • Water
  • Alka Seltzer Tabs
  • Food coloring
  • Jars

I had everyone on hand, other than the Alka Seltzer tabs. You can find them about anywhere if you don’t have them.

The first part is where I messed up. You’re supposed to fill the jar up 2/3 of the way. I filled 2/3 of the jar with water. We make mistakes. Mine was just a big one for this experiment. It still worked though!

So, fill 2/3 of the jar with oil. Then combine your food coloring and water together to fill up the rest of the jar. Obviously, kids love to help, so they can definitely pour the oil and water into the jars.

Next, get your alka seltzer tabs out. Don’t let your child eat them! But, break them up in smaller pieces for them to put in the jar.

I personally did different sizes and let Mila put a full tab in there as well. I thought it was fun for her to see the difference in the reactions. You could even do this beforehand too.

Next, have them start putting pieces in.

In my one time experience, Mila thought this was cool. She wanted to put all of them in at once. I tried to tell her to do one at a time, but she’d sneak some when I wasn’t looking.

In the future, I’ll definitely do this experiment again… and do it the right way. It was fun to ask Mila what she was noticing. She immediately understood the tabs were making the bubbles. As she gets older, there will be more questions and observations I could ask her too.

As you can see, it is pretty cool! The red turned out way better than the white, but I think this is the oil/water issue that I had.

I hope you can do this fun experiment with your child this week. It’s always great to mix science in your routine at home.

Happy experimenting!

Toddler Activity: Salt Dough Santa

Okay, okay. I know it seems like we’ve been making a lot of ornaments around here, but they’re fun!

These salt dough ornaments are easy to do and make great, last minute DIY gifts.

Here’s what you’ll need for these:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • Water (no set amount. I’ll explain!)
  • Paint
  • Glue *optional
  • Glitter *optional
  • Yarn/Ribbon
  • Knife

Admittedly, I have not had the best track record with salt dough. I think I’ve added too much water in the past. This time, they turned out great though.

First, preheat your oven to 250°.

Then, if your child likes to help mix ingredients, they’ll think this is really cool. Add the flour, salt, and a little bit of water together. Then start mixing with a spoon or your hand.

Here’s where the water ingredient is tricky. I just kept adding a little bit at a time until it got to a play-doh consistency.

Next, Mila and I rolled the salt dough out into circles. To get the Santa shape, I told her to keep her four fingers together and she kept her thumb held a little out.

For this part, just press their hands in there. It will imprint nicely. I trimmed around her hand to get more of the shape. All I used was a knife!

I ended up getting four hand Santa’s, a ‘snow globe’ with two of her hands, and two little circular ornaments so Mila could paint however she wants. Then I stuck them in the oven.

They’ll need to bake in the oven for two hours. Then take them out and let them completely cool before you start painting.

If you’re child is older, they’ll be able to paint the Santa’s on. Mila likes to paint crazy right now, so I did this for her. I used red, white, and tan paint.

After the paint was dried, I put glue and glitter down where I wanted it. Then, I used yarn to complete it. You could use ribbon too!

Honestly, I think they turned out so cute. They were simple to do and Mila just loves them.

Happy creating and making with your child.

Toddler Activity: Grinch Ornament

It’s finally Christmas break! That means packing Mila and I’s Christmas activities in a few short days.

Here’s a fun one that includes a movie and cuddles afterwards.

Mila absolutely loves the Grinch. We’ve watched the three different movies and I figured I needed to get her the book too. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!

I came up with this activity after seeing a similar one on Pinterest. Obviously, I’m sure others have done this before, but I wanted to share what we did.

What I used:

  • ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ by Dr. Seuss book
  • Craft Pom Poms (preferably green, but we used rainbow colors and it turned out adorable)
  • Clear plastic bulb
  • Red paint
  • Paint brush
  • Grinch movies – Netflix and YouTube

I started off the activity by talking to Mila about the Grinch. She told me he was mean. We then talked about how Christmas made us feel. Then I asked why Christmas would make the Grinch want to be mean.

Then, I read her the first page about the Grinch’s heart being too small. At this time, I took the bulb and drew a small heart in the middle.

With the empty bulb and small heart on it, I told her the Grinch is mean because his heart is this small and empty. BUT, we could help him out by filling it up with love and Christmas cheer.

After this, I asked her to fill the ‘heart’ with the pom poms every time she thought the Grinch needed some love.

I continued reading her the book and she filled the heart. The moment I flipped to the last page, she put the last pom pom in the bulb.

Then, I reread the part of the Grinch’s heart growing three times it’s size. With that, I painted a bigger heart over the smaller one to visualize this.

Mila and I talked about how Christmas isn’t about presents, but I still think she’s looking forward to that most of all. She hung the ornament up on the tree and we watched two of the Grinch movies to end our night.

It was a fun night and the activity could be modified by the questions and painting for older kids too!

I thought it was a fun and easy one to share, especially with Christmas right around the corner.

If you happen to do this activity, let me know on the comments!