Tag Archives: toddler

Leland is 3!

Oh, Leland . . . not that I ever call him that!  Our little Goosety . . . I can’t believe it has been 3 years!

Just born!

Just born!

smart, funny, sweet, sensitive, irrepressible, snuggly (a more recent development), silly, tender-hearted

One year old!

One year old!

He weighed in at 29 pounds and is just under 39 inches at the doctor.

Two years old!

Two years old!

He loves trucks, being outside, playgrounds, sticker books, his kiddie theology book, music class, playgroup, the zoo, macaroni and cheese, ice cream . . .

Three years old!

Three years old!

And some Leland quotes from the last few months:

L: Baby eat pork-pines, only pork-pines

L: Only baby drive impact hammer

(After I had painted my toenails a couple days prior)
L: Mommy put something on her toes
Em: Yes I did
L: It’s garlic
Em: No honey
L: It’s probably garlic

(re: toast) L: It’s [my] favorite.  It’s probably love.

(sticks a toy fishing rod in my nose) L: Gonna take some booger pictures

L:  There’s cactuses at the syringe party

L (sings): Jesus Jesus (speaking) That’s a song about Jesus

B: What kind of dog should we get?
L: A kitty cat dog . . . a ice black dog. Okay.  Alright. Just in case.

L: Spiderweb Leland Daniel Hess.  That’s [my] spiderweb name.

L: You can’t see words, but you can listen to them.

(re: orange juice) L: It lights me up when I drink it


Happy Birthday, my boy . . .


One of those moms . . . [and some fun links!]

I plunked Elliot down on the floor after the third failed attempt to get him to sleep* and said “I’m going out.”  Brian (wisely) didn’t ask questions. I grabbed my coat and drove alone for the first time in who knows how long and went to Benny’s (a local chain store).  Google said they closed at 9, but when I arrived a big sign said “Open Nights ‘Til 8PM”.  I checked the clock and it was 7:58.  I went in.  It smelled the same as when we went there with my Dad as kids.


I regularly donate, sell, or at least rotate the kids’ toys to keep them under control.  We don’t have tv so Leland doesn’t know about all the great toys for sale out there, and we go quickly past or around any toy section at the store.  I like to stick to open-ended, non-electronic toys but we have plenty that don’t fit that criteria, too.

But then the Benny’s circular came, and there was a toy that looked an awful lot like an impact hammer, and Leland is really into impact hammers (and pretty much every other kind of truck, thank you Truck Tunes Vol. 1 and 2 . . . and desperation on long trips where we count trucks . . . ). He is the one who found it on the page.  (Side note: Easy entertainment for 2 little boys – throw all the circulars on the floor and let them rip/move/scrunch them)

It’s not an impact hammer, more of a bulldozer with a drill on the back, and from Paw Patrol (a show I think).  It’s not electronic at least.  But this striving-for-minimalism-or-at-least-less-clutter Mom turned into a crazed Black Friday shopper and I had to have this toy.

So there I was, at 7:58 scanning the toy aisle at Benny’s 2 days before the toy even went on sale – I wanted it so bad I would’ve paid full price that very night.  No impact hammer.  I scan again, I check to make sure that was the entire toy section.  It’s past 8 now. And then a nice young man in a tie asked if he could help me and I gladly accepted. No impact hammer.  He took my name and number to hold it for me if they found one.  I probably talked about impact hammers a little too much and probably had crazy eyes but I was on a mission, and excited to be talking to an adult.

The next day I line up my brother to check another Benny’s the day they go on sale if I don’t find one.  The day the sale starts arrives, and I call the store with my name – no one answers.  I call the store my brother could run to  – no one answers.  I remember another one close to me – someone answers!  They check – they have one!  They hold it for me.  We all go out in the pouring rain and retrieve it (as stealthily as possible since Leland was with me).  It’s kind of dinky, actually.  But for $11 I will be giving my child an impact hammer for his birthday in May!

*Elliot’s sleep is pretty terrible lately – I think it’s a 10 months thing.  Sleep regressions are hard when sleep wasn’t that great to begin with.  I have a motto, however, because we subscribe to the “wait-it-out” method of sleep training – I made it up myself, and I think it’s pretty catchy:  No sleep training = no complaining.  So I’m not complaining, just explaining 🙂

I found this post about 9 months helpful:  http://babyshrink.com/2010/why-your-9-month-old-baby-is-so-difficult-all-of-a-sudden

Swan Cookies!

So I found this recipe for swan cookies and I was intrigued by how simple it looked to make the swan shapes!  But the recipe was very vague and included some European ingredients I didn’t feel like hunting down, so here is our version.


Refrigerated pie crust

A couple raisins (or brown sprinkles)

1 egg plus a little water


Unroll the pie crust and cut out circles with a glass or cookie cutter.  Fold the circles in half, then refer to the original recipe for where to cut and how to shape into a swan.  Just three little cuts, curl the neck, and spread the wings a little!

Cut up raisins into little bits and place as an eye on each.

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Mix the egg with a little water and brush over the cookies.  Sprinkle sugar all over each.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until golden!

I had a pretty cute little helper, and little mister not-taking-a-morning-nap entertained with toys in his high chair for a bit!

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They came out pretty good!  But then I also really like pie crust (even better raw – but I couldn’t swipe much in front of the kiddos.  I’m such a weirdo)

The boys liked them (only a little bit for Elliot, and Leland would eat them all day if I let him – I’m using “save some to show and give to Daddy” to keep him from eating more after his nap!).

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P.S this is a great shot of Elliot’s coming-in-out-of-order teeth and amber necklace!

What we’ve been eating . . .

Some new recipes I’ve tried:

Butternut Squash sauce (on tortellini and spaghetti) – I combined the roasting method from Martha Stewart’s recipe here (including roasted whole garlic cloves along with it) and the rest of the ingredients/method from Lauren’s Latest here  (decreasing the amount of time cooking the squash in the broth because it’s already roasted, and I made sure to super slow caramelize my onions).  Sooo yummy but unfortunately Leland is sensitive to it – more leftovers for me I guess!

Cranberry Bliss Bars – here at Taste of Home.  Can they just admit they copied them from Starbucks?  They are so good!  I used ground ginger instead of cinnamon in the blondies, and skipped the orange zest in the frosting.  I think I upped the powdered sugar in the frosting, too, but I was just dumping what was left in the bag I had.

Creamy Chicken Chili – here on Passionate Penny Pincher.  I replaced the can of Ro-Tel with a can of chopped green chilies because Leland is allergic to tomotoes.  I skipped the Ranch seasoning and added dried cilantro and garlic.  I also added a cup or two of chicken stock.  I can’t imagine how thick this would be without it!  Big hit with all of us!  I might decrease the amount of corn next time, and maybe drain the can of corn – the corn overpowered a bit. I might also try white beans instead of black just for aesthetics.

Cheesy Ham, Broccoli, and Rice – here at Buns in my oven – I don’t think I really changed anything with this one!  I pretty much usually put my own spin on things.  Hubby is not really a fan of this one but I think it’s delicious and easy so I keep making it.

For Elliot:  my little baby is starting to eat!  He turned 6 months on Sunday and has so far enjoyed gnawing on half bananas, long pieces of roasted squash, steamed baby carrots, and Baby Mum-Mums. We use the baby-led weaning method so we give him whole foods to explore at his own pace, starting with stick shapes that are easiest to hold and of course soft things. There has been some significant gagging but that is part of the process of learning to eat.  He seems to really be enjoying it!  Next up to try is steamed broccoli and apple slices.  So much fun and so much mess!

How not to do art with a toddler . . .

Leland pulled out this sticker book full of farm animals, and I managed to keep him from sticking them all over the walls, his brother, and himself to wait for paper while I used the bathroom (Yes you can put it on your shirt; no you can’t put it on the wall; yes you can put it on your pants; it probably won’t stick to the towels; yes you can flush the toilet for me). Two stickers out of twenty-five ended up being used in various ways during this time – I’ll take it.

While I was peeing I thought about how I would draw a quick barn and fence for him to put the stickers around, and then I remembered this great stamp-a-scene set I had with fences, grass, trees etc. so I got all excited and went running around finding the stamps, ink pads, markers, paper, and a pencil.


Then I put out the paper, drew a quick barn, and told Leland he could add some stickers. He put a couple on, but then got distracted by my stamping a fence, trees, grass, and flowers. Also distracted by all my fun art supplies that he wasn’t supposed to use!  I could see him disengaging the more I was doing . He put a bunch of farm animal stickers on and we made a nice picture but I realized this was not the best way to do art with a toddler (not necessarily a bad way, but could be better).


Some takeaways:

  • Don’t put out supplies the toddler can’t use
  • Don’t care so much about making it beautiful
  • Rethink working together on one paper (although if I have my own he usually just wants to help with mine!)
  • Leave the pig upside-down. He put the baby pig upside down so it could be facing the mama pig because they were talking.  I should have left it.
  • Maybe make a basic scene ahead of time, then let him go to town with the stickers
  • (I shouldn’t have to remind myself of this:) It’s the process not the product!
  • Focus on what he is doing, not the great idea I had
  • Don’t do elaborate activities right before naptime

Basically art at this age can be mostly be an open-ended, child-directed event. Simply put out some supplies and watch what happens. That being said, guided kits and structured activities are fine, too! I’m not ashamed of using the pre-colored and designed paint-with-water sheets for the decrease in mess. But I should create more opportunities for his creativity without getting in the way.

I guess what I mean is I got a little carried away with my own ideas this time, and it was a good reminder of what works better.  It wasn’t even bad – just could have been more fun if I had stepped out of the way.

Homemade Liquid Watercolors

So I wanted to buy little pipettes for giving the kiddos supplements and ended up with ones that were way too big! I wanted little tiny ones to do single drops and these are much bigger.  Unfortunately it was 3.99 to return them to Amazon and they only cost $5, so I was now in possession of  100 3ml pipettes.  Quick googling and boom! craft projects galore! So exciting! Most of which involved liquid watercolors, which are mad expensive.  Not so exciting. Side note – do a pinterest search of “pipette food” and be amazed.

Do I want to share this next bit on the internet? Yes I do.  Have you ever used a Dollar Tree pregnancy test? Talk about saving money!  Instead of peeing on a stick, you have to pee in a cup and then use this itsy bitsy pipette to put exactly 4 drops of pee in a little indentation on the stick.  That’s the kind of pipette I was looking for and still cannot find! Anyone have any suggestions for a tool to give babies tiny drops of supplements? This is also not all I have to say about Dollar Tree pregnancy tests, so look forward to that in a post someday.

ANYWAYS . . . More googling – can I make my own liquid watercolors? Yes I can! Inspired by these 2 posts I did a little experimenting and one method definitely shines above the other – http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2014/02/homemade-washable-liquid-watercolors.html and http://happyhooligans.ca/vibrant-homemade-liquid-watercolor-paint/

Watercolor disc method on the left, marker method on the right, 1 pipette of 100 in the front!


I used some super old watercolor discs I had around, and semi-old crayola markers.  With the discs I used warm water to dissolve them.  For the markers I took the ink stick out of the middle and cut it into pieces and let it sit in water for awhile.

Testing out the watercolor disc liquid watercolors . . .


Testing out the marker liquid watercolors . . .


Side by side – discs on the left, marker on the right (the bright red on the left one is splatter from the marker paints), pipettes 1 and 2 of 100 on the sides!

DSC04290I think we have a clear winner here – although to be fair, they were very old discs, and the markers were not dried out as the directions stated.  It can be very messy getting the ink stick out of the marker, but if you use not completely dried out markers you won’t have to do all of the cutting and mashing as in the directions (just cut them into 3-4 pieces).

I figure this saves anywhere from $15-$25, depending on materials you have on hand.  Basically for the cost of a pack of crayola markers you can have a set of liquid watercolors.  Buy the washable ones while you’re at it! My mom had a whole bunch of plastic Talenti gelato containers so I plan on using those when I make a whole set for the toddler to create with (thanks Mom!).

I have big plans for coffee filter art (thanks Michael!), and making a gelatin cake!! Doesn’t that look fun???  http://tinyhandsbigideas.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/gelatin-cakes-part-1/

More on Gentle Parenting . . .

I have been thinking yet more about gentle parenting . . . maybe someday I will get all of my thoughts for posts in one place at one time in one coherent post, but for this season of life that is not to be! I also should note I am not by any means an expert on gentle parenting.

I also had this ready to post already and lost it, so here goes again (this time typed in Word first)!

In my last post here I forgot to mention Leland’s other amazing concoction: peas and ranch dressing in his honey/raisin/cinnamon oatmeal!  He ate it all up – I’m glad I didn’t stop his creativity!

I am wondering if we spend so much time concerned with our children’s sin natures that we don’t take our own into account.  Any parenting method would probably work if we were perfectly sanctified already.  I have found myself struggling with anger since becoming the proud owner of a 2-year-old, whereas I never would have thought of myself having any anger issue or temper previously.  And when I am angry is when I am most likely to be a less than gently parent, including yelling, and some physical punishment. I know that when angry is the very time to not use physical punishment!  My main trigger (other than fatigue) I found to be when I was trying to put the baby down for naps.  For a while Leland would play quietly enough, but then he started willfully being loud when he knew he needed to be quiet.  My solution for now is he watches a video while I nurse the baby down for his nap.  It goes against my ideals for limiting screen time, but it is keeping me sane and helping the baby nap.  At most he watches 2 videos a day.  (We don’t have a tv so limiting screen time is a little easier!)

Something I have thought about for a long time is how often as Christians, in an effort to fight the sin nature, we reject all things natural.  I notice this in how gentle parenting methods tend more to embrace age appropriate behavior.  Is it sinful for a 2-year-old to act like a 2-year-old? My Aunt has a theory that Jesus himself acted as any 2-year-old might.  I also thought about this concept when Leland was little and I nursed him to sleep.  There is a popular Christian parenting method that would call this a “prop” for sleep.  But what would I do then with the little baby who fell asleep nursing? I was told it would get harder the longer I waited to stop doing this, but he eventually just started staying awake after nursing and I could lay him down.  Now he loves going to bed! I know Elliot will eventually stop as well.  I think it helps to wait until they are old enough to understand when you talk to them about going to bed and what is happening.  Anyway, other examples of “natural” things many Christians might reject could be chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga, herbal remedies, babies waking up at night, etc.  I’m not lumping those all together as the same type of thing, just thinking about what things might fall into this broad category of rejecting natural along with the sin nature.

The Christian parenting book I am reading now is not my favorite. I really like many of the overarching principles that focus on the heart of the child and the Gospel, but I do not necessarily agree with the “how” that the author comes to from those principles.  Although the Bible is sufficient for all things for life, it doesn’t give a specific, comprehensive manual for parenting.  We have to be careful that when we hear or say something is the Biblical way that is not just one person’s specific interpretation.  We also need to take into account the whole Word of God and not create an ideology based on one verse in isolation.

Side story: I learned the phrase “it’s not my favorite” from one of the missionaries that led the music camp trip to Namibia I went on in 2004. She taught her kids to use that phrase if they were served food they did not like.  I love how it rides the balance of honesty and tact!