11 Tips for Flying with Toddlers

The past few weeks have been so busy, filled with lots of packing, unpacking, and settling in, as I have flown back to the States. I will be here until October. Now that I am back and (somewhat) settled in, I will be posting once or twice a week again. I also plan on updating my blog a bit, customizing it and maybe getting my own domain name.

The trip back to the U.S. was my sixth international flight with Miles. You would think that by now I would be an expert at it. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to become an expert on this subject, because there are so many things that could go wrong. However, I have collected many tips to make flying with a little one easier. So here they are:

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1. Snacks- and lots of them

This is number one on my list because snacks are usually the number one lifesaver when traveling. Bring healthy snacks that you know your child likes. (For Miles it was bananas and rice cakes). Also bring a couple of special treats (goldfish, animal crackers). Yes, they give you snacks on the plane and you can buy them at the airport, but ALWAYS pack some of your own. I’ve had flights delayed and no time to stop in airports for a snack, so I was so thankful I brought my own.

What snacks are good for:

-Taking off and landing. When our ears pop as adults, we know to swallow to make it stop even without thinking. Young children however haven’t learned this habit yet. So giving them food or drink during take off or landing allows them to swallow which reduces the pain of their ears popping.

- Lines. When in line for checking in, security, or boarding I gave Miles a snack that he could hold and eat himself to help him be patient.

- Distraction. Of course, if your child loves eating as much as my son, this was the best way to calm Miles down when he was really upset. I saved the special treat snacks for this occasion.

2. Movies and iPhone apps

Movies and iPhone apps were the second lifesaver during my trip. Miles usually doesn’t just sit and watch movies for long periods of times. However, on the plane he watched the movies for a good half hour. I don’t have a portable DVD player (although I may invest in one for my next flight), but he just watched the movies provided on the plane. Gnomeo and Juliet was his favorite. Luckily, he didn’t mind too much that he couldn’t hear a thing because he refused to wear the headphones.

I’ve always used iPhone apps a little bit (mostly as a distraction while changing Miles’s diaper). These came in handy for when I needed a quick distraction. Miles is at the age (15.5 months) where he just wants to walk around all the time. So when he started shouting “UP! UP!” at me, I would pull out my iPhone and it would distract him from wanting to walk up and down the aisle.

I managed to capture a picture during the 30 seconds he kept the headphones in.

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3. Books and toys your child has never seen before or hasn’t seen in a while.

It is really good to have books and toys that your child is unfamiliar with for the flight. I bought Miles a few new toys and books, and also hid a few of his favorites a couple weeks before my flight.  Here is a picture of some of the toys that I brought.

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I included 3 books, 2 finger puppets, a fish pencil, a sticker book, a toy marching man, a container full of little sea animals, a play cell phone, a toy that vibrates when twisted, and a bath toy bee whose wings turn when pulled.

The biggest successes were all of the books, the fish pencil, the vibrating toy, the bee, and the sea animals.

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The sea animals would entertain him for about 20 minutes at a time, until he started throwing them.

4. Songs and poems.

Songs and poems are always great, and they work wonders on the flights. I sang Miles calming songs when trying to get him to fall asleep (which was really difficult with so much going on) and more upbeat songs with signs or actions when he was getting restless. Toddlers love being involved, so the more you can involve them in the song the more they will enjoy it. For some of the songs Miles tried to mimic my motions, for others he would hold onto my arms as I did the motions. Here are a few good ones:

“Wind the Bobbin up”

“Once I Caught a Fish Alive”

“Where is Thumbkin?”

5. Bring a stroller.

I have flown both with and without a stroller, and I definitely recommend bringing one. You can collect your stroller to use for each layover. I brought a roller suitcase carry-on bag and just attached it to the handle on the stroller to stroll the two together. I prefer bringing the stroller because I didn’t have to worry about Miles getting too heavy while carrying him or about him running off if I let him walk. Arguments against the strollers are that they don’t allow children the chance to burn off their energy before and in between flights, so once we got to the correct departure gate, I would let Miles out of the stroller to walk around a little bit.

6. If you can, get the toddler his own seat.

When your child is under two, he can sit on your lap for a tenth of the price of your ticket (depending on the airline). This is very convenient because it saves lots of money, and you can still check in a bag for him and carry ons for him. However, an 8 hour flight with a toddler on your lap can be very uncomfortable and overwhelming. So here are some things you can do:

-If it is an infant under 25 pounds you can get a bassinet that goes in front of your seat. Call ahead to make sure you get this seat.

-Pick your seat online. If your child is too big for the basinet go online and make sure that you get a seat with a lot of room. On the smaller planes a lot of room is nearly impossible, so I usually choose an aisle seat. Some people prefer windows though. I do not recommend choosing middle seats. Sitting between two strangers with a baby on your lap is NEVER comfortable.

-Ask the flight attendant if there are any open seats available. Chances are that person sitting next to you would rather move to an open seat without a toddler sitting next to them, and the flight attendants know this will make it easier for you, so usually they are very willing to help.

7. Keep everything important very handy.

Passports, money, phones, and cash are all things that you will need to keep in a place thats easily accessible. Usually I bring a separate purse with all of my important items with me, which works great. This past time, though i put all of these things in the side pocket of my diaper bag so that I would only have one bag, and it worked just as well. Other things that I kept in a side pocket so I could easily grab it in the airport or plane were Miles’s pacifier, a ziplock bag of wipes, a snack for me and Miles, Miles’s juice cup, and a couple toys that Miles could entertain himself with (yes, the colorful, light-up, singing ones).

8. Make sure you both get some rest.

My flight left at 6 in the morning which meant we had to wake up at 2:30 AM to gather last minute things, get dressed, and get to the airport for 4:00 AM check in. I let Miles take only one half hour nap the day before and put him to sleep for the night at 6:30.  However, he was still exhausted. I tried to keep him up in the airport instead of allowing him to sleep which was a BIG mistake. On the first flight he WOULD NOT sleep even though he was completely exhausted. There was just too much going on all around him. He was very grumpy and the smallest things would send him into a loud piercing cry. Luckily, that first flight was only an hour and a half long, and he fell asleep right away when I put him in his stroller at the airport.  I let him sleep this time in the airport. I realized that a happy awake toddler was much more manageable on a flight than a grumpy sleepy baby.

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Miles finally got some sleep during the long flight.

I unfortunately did not get as much sleep as Miles the night before. I went to sleep at 10:30 PM and woke up at 2:30 AM. I had 2 chances on our long flight to sleep while Miles took his naps. The first chance I took, the second chance, however, I realized that The Perks of Being a Wallflower was playing on the plane. So, I chose to watch it instead of napping. Luckily, I wasn’t too tired.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I find that most people are very helpful to a woman alone with a baby or toddler. So many times people offered to carry my bags for me, fold down my stroller, put my bags in the overhead compartment, etc. But, if nobody offers to help you, and you can’t manage by yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. When we got off the plane in Atlanta, I couldn’t find my stroller that was meant to be waiting for me when I got off the plane. (This is when we had to go through US customs). I was quite angry that my stroller  had been misplaced, but was going to try to manage without it until I saw the incredibly long line and realized I could not hold my wiggly and very heavy little boy for that long. I approached a flight attendant and told him about the situation (and embarrassingly enough, started crying), but he was MORE than helpful. He took me to the special assistance line which only had five people ahead of me and he waited in line with me. Then he helped me find my stroller and locate my bags. If I wouldn’t have asked for help, I probably would have miserably waited in the incredibly long line with a crying toddler and my arm nearly falling off from his weight. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People understand that it is hard to travel alone with a child, and usually will be more than willing to help.

10. Be prepared.

When traveling with a little one, you have to be prepared. Bring extra food, snacks, and juice, because you might be delayed and not have time to stop in the airport, or they might not serve what your child likes on the plane. Bring extra diapers, wipes, bibs, and changes of clothes, because you never know how many times your child will poop, or what’s going to spill all over his clothes.

11. Relax.

When I got off my last flight, a lady approached me and said, “You know, he was so good, and I think it was because of how relaxed you were.”  I hadn’t even realized that this could have been a factor, but it definitely is. When you are sitting on the plane, try your best to relax and just enjoy  the time that you are spending with your child. While it may be a hectic experience for you, it is exciting and new for your child. So, try to relax and make the best of it. If he sees that you are happy, most likely he will be happy too.

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The wonders of play dough

I gave Miles play dough to play with once before, but he didn’t like it. It was a make-your-own using cornstarch and water. It broke apart too easily, and wasn’t the right consistency. Miles only played with it for 5 minutes, so I figured he just didn’t enjoy play dough, and I haven’t tried it again since. Big Mistake.

I found a recipe for one minute playdough here. It use only dish washing detergent and flour. I substituted plain white flour for self-raising flour because that’s all I had, and it still worked. It was the perfect consistancy, it came out a lovely pastel green color without any food coloring added to it, and it also smells clean!

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I decided to use the play dough as an opportunity to teach Miles about the color green by pairing it with other green items. I used a green Easter egg, green wooden dowels, some green tops, and green dinosaurs.

Miles absolutely loved it and played with it for about a 45 minutes!

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I loved watching him concentrate so hard as he manipulated the play dough in different ways.

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He chews on his tongue when he is concentrating hard like I do. haha

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I wish we had been using play dough all along! It’s great for fine motor skills, and it kept him entertained for so long. I’ll definitely be using this one minute play dough recipe again in the future!

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Earth Day

Earth Day is Monday, so we’ve been doing some environmentally friendly activities all week.

The first activity we did was a recycled materials painting.

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I gave Miles an old paper bag to paint on with some finger paint. (I taped the paper bag to his high chair so it wouldn’t move around as he painted.)  And instead of giving him a paint brush, I gave him a recycled toilet paper roll and pieces of a recycled egg carton to stamp onto the page.

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The first day he painted with blue.

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We hung it up to dry and the next day he painted over it using green paints. The idea was to make it look like the earth.

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Here is his finished “earth”:

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Our next activity was a two-part activity. First we went to the park on a discovery walk to pick out some objects for an Earth day discovery tray.

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 I wanted this walk in the park to be different from other walks in the park with Miles. So, I took him off the trail a bit, and then let him lead the way.

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We picked up any object along the way that he was interested in.

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 I talked to him about all the different objects, describing their textures, colors, etc.IMG_2738

His favorite objects were big sticks and flowers.

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We ended up with some sticks, a pine cone, and some flowers to put in our discovery tray.  I also added the Earth ball.When I first introduced him to the tray he was only interested in playing with ball. When I took the ball out of the tray, he was much more interested in the natural objects.

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There are many other simple ways that you can celebrate Earth Day.  From picking up litter on the streets, to using minimal electricity for a day, the possibilities are endless. Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about some of the ways you celebrate Earth Day.

 

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weekly activities

My last blog was about where we went last week, this blog is about what we did around the house and what Miles (14.5 months) has been learning.

Since Miles has always been a big fan of opening and closing as drawers, and recently has become obsessed with opening and closing containers, I decided to make some “open and close” activities for him.

First I set up this “open and close” bin for him.

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The bin included a tin box, a glasses case, a small purse, a book, a tin food container, an easter egg, a toy cell phone, my old cell phone (which doesn’t work anymore because Miles put it in the wash machine just before I started it – which his daddy saw and thought it was funny so didn’t tell me because he thought I would notice- tsk tsk), an easter egg, and a small zip-up toy backpack.

I’ve been trying to implement Montessori inspired activities into Miles’s playtime, so I introduced him to this activity using the Montessori method. We took the activity from the table and placed it on his mat. Then I showed him twice how to do it. I opened each item saying “open” as I did it. And then closed each item saying “close.” When I finished showing him, I stepped away and let him explore, still saying “open” when he opened one of the items and “close” when he closed one. When he stopped showing interest, I had him help me clean it up and put it back on the table.

His favorite items were the tin box and can and the two cell phones.

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This was the other open and close activity we did this week.

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I set Miles up with a bunch of different containers and their tops to match them with. He loved this activity.

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Besides these two activities, I also worked with him on “open and close” all week. Whenever he opened a drawer or cabinet, I would say “open” and when he shut it I would say “close.”

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Another activity we did this week was this split pea bin. Just split peas in a bin with some spoons and cups.

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Miles absolutely loved it! He played with it for about 40 mins. Of course he needed constant supervision with this activity, because of the small split peas (which he tried to eat only a few times). He loved scooping from the bin into the cups with his spoons.

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Daddy helped out for a little while.

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This activity was over however when Miles started throwing the split peas across the room. I have never seen him so throw such a fit before as he did when I took away this activity.

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Miles has also been learning the parts of the face. He can point to ears, eyes, and nose on both me and Joe,  and he even says “eeyyyyeee” for eye and “eeeeeee” for ear.

The only part of the face he can point to on himself though is his ear.

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When he got tired of playing the parts of the face game, I scored these really cute photos which I felt like I had to share.

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I was featured for Tot School!

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Being a tourist with a toddler

Although I’ve been in Scotland for almost 5 months now, Joe and I sometimes still enjoy “playing tourist.”

This week, we decided to get a two day ticket on the Glasgow tourist bus.

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It took us around the whole city, and we could hop on and off as we pleased. Miles loved it. He would always hold on really tight when we first got on it, but by then end he would relax and drift to sleep.

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On the first day, we took the whole tour, then stopped at a park and went for lunch and shopping. The second day we decided to be a bit more touristy and go to a museum. We went to the People’s Palace.

We have begun to let Miles walk around as much as possible, especially when we go somewhere together.  So we did not bring the stroller to the museum. This was our second time visiting a museum without a stroller, and I must be honest it takes a lot of getting used to.

I did not get to read the descriptions or take as many pictures of things as I might have liked to because I was busy chasing around my little toddler. However, I did still enjoy myself. It was so exciting watching Miles explore this new place. To touch and see the things he has never touched or seen before.  So, even though maybe I didn’t learn too much from my museum experience, I am happy to know that Miles learned and explored a lot.

The fountain outside the park

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If you can manage to look past the beautiful fountain, you can see the old carpet factory in the background of these pictures. It is a beautiful building that is now just an apartment complex.

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I always love these things haha

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Miles in jail!!

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We tried to get him to look upset while he was pretending to be in jail, but the above picture is the best we could get.

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These pictures are from Kelvingrove Park, that we went to earlier in the week to feed the birds and squirrels again. It has become an almost everyday thing since both Miles and Joe enjoy it so much.

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Miles enjoys being outside so much. He is so content just walking about and exploring, even when it is obvious in his eyes that he is getting tired he keeps a smile on his face as long as we are outside. We are going camping this weekend for a night, so hopefully he enjoys sleeping outside just as much. I’ll be sure to post a blog about our camping adventure.

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Easter Activities

To celebrate Easter, I gave Miles a bunch of activities throughout the week.

We started with this one. It’s just 6 little Easter chicks, 6 plastic Easter eggs, and an ice cube tray, all from Poundland (the UK equivalent of Dollar Store)

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This activity worked really well because he could practice a few different fine motor skills. Here he is sorting the chicks in the ice tray.

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I gave him the activity again a few days later and this time he was more interested in opening and closing the eggs.

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Since Miles has been very interested in pouring and splashing around in water lately, I set him up with this Easter themed water bin. It just uses the plastic Easter eggs and ice tray in the above activity, and I added water to it. He absolutely loved it! He played with it for about 40 minutes. By the end of it all the water was on him, and there was none left in the tub.

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For his Easter craft I drew an egg on a sheet of paper and Miles picked the stickers that he wanted to put on, and then placed them on by himself.

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There was some coloring as well, which he is starting to get the hang of, but he didnt enjoy it as much as the stickers.

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This activity was great for his concentration. He concentrated so hard to get the stickers to stop sticking to his fingers and to stay on the page.

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Miles’s finished Easter masterpiece! :)

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THE GIANT EASTER MORNING SENSORY BIN!

Rather than doing an Easter basket with a bunch of chocolates, I decided to give Miles a giant sensory experience for Easter morning with this bin. I used Easter grass, little baskets that came in an Easter Egg dying kit, little bunnies and chicks, straws, pipe cleaners, and other random pastel toys I had lying around the flat.

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When he first approached it, he was very neat and careful, picking up just one item at a time and examining it.

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After a while though, he was throwing the grass all around and clapping for himself afterwards.

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Daddy joined in on the fun.

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And of course what Easter would be complete without a little chocolate?

Miles thought his chocolate bunny was a toy at first, so Joe had to show him he could eat it.

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Yummmmmmyyyyy!

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I’ve been trying to post this blog for a few hours now but the internet keeps cutting out and my computer keeps going totally crazy. But I finally got around to it!

Happy Easter

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ball pit

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March 31, 2013 · 7:50 pm

Feeding the Pigeons

Yesterday, we took the burnt bits of the bread that we made and went to the park to feed the pigeons. Miles absolutely loved it. I think his huge obsession for birds grew even bigger. The pigeons were surprisingly very brave. They would jump up on our knees and arms looking for bread. One even landed on Miles’s head! (scary!) It was such a great experience. I am so mad at myself for forgetting my camera, but I brought my iphone so here is the full photoshoot.

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The little girl in the photos is just a girl we met at the park who joined in our pigeon feeding. The two men in the picture are my husband Joe and his brother Shaun.

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Infinite Scroll- Patterns

I entered Arthouse Co-op’s Infinite Scroll- Patterns project.

Here’s my entry:

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You can check out the full project here:

http://arthousecoop.tumblr.com/post/45992926787/infinite-scroll-patterns#notes

I need to start working on the next one. The theme is landscapes and its due tomorrow!!! AHH!!

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What we did this week

I probably should have been keeping a blog the whole time I’ve been in Scotland, but oh well, better late than never.

Places we visited:

the Glasgow Transport Museum

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Miles loved walking around the museum by himself and exploring everything.

Around the house:

Joe introduced Miles to keys and how to open doors, and now he tries to do it himself.

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This kept him entertained for hours. And now everytime he sees one of our keys lying around on the ground he picks them up and walks towards the door and sticks them in the little hole, then claps for himself.

Then we gave Miles his first haircut!! I was pretty nervous to let Joe cut it, but it actually came out pretty good I think.

Here’s the before and after!

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We found that the secret to keeping to stay still the whole time was to keep giving him snacks.

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Joe made bread and so we gave Miles some of the dough to “help” with.

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He loved picking it up with the fork and putting it into the two bowls. This was great practice for him feeding himself.

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He tried to eat it only a few times.

I found these awesome chunky naked crayons which I thought would be perfect for Mile’s first time coloring.

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He enjoyed it initially, but then became more interested in standing the crayons straight up.

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He also finally took interested in this activity, dropping the popsicle sticks into the slits. It took him a couple weeks to get the hang of it, but now he loves it.

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I also found an idea on Pinterest to let children finger paint with baby shampoo. I thought this sounded like a great idea. Since it was just soap, it would be easy to clean up.

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Miles unfortunately didn’t enjoy it. He didn’t really get the concept and didn’t enjoy getting his hands sticky. After about 5 mins he started shouting “out” at me.

Joe began setting up Miles’s toys very elaborately for when he wakes up in the mornings. Here are some of Joe’s masterpieces:

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Miles loved knocking them down.

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