Family

toddler activities

As Sequel gets older and slightly more independent, I’m able to spend more one-on-one time with Piggle. Sequel usually just sits back and watches while our adventures unfold. I usually try to keep  as cheap as possible. I find there is a lot more fun to be had when money isn’t a huge factor—it opens up more opportunities for creativity. A lot of our dates are outdoors. Even if it’s just kicking a ball at the park or playing tag in the field; it’s the mom-and-son time that Piggle so desperately craves.

The past week has posed a bit of an issue for our outdoor excursions. The weather has been so miserable, and we all ended up sick because of it. We tried our best to get out there for at least 15 minutes, but honestly, we all felt so gross that it wasn’t much fun. Instead, I decided to test our creative prowess in the kitchen. At the very least, we’d end up with some kickass comfort food to get us through the plague.

We usually make muffins and cookies twice a week, but I’m starting to get sick of them. There really is such thing as too much of a good thing. I took to scouring  for something new, and I came across a fantastic blog called . The other day, she posted a new recipe for. The name, alone, was enough to have me drooling, but seeing her stunning photos of it made it a sure bet that we’d be making granola instead of our usual cookies.

I never, ever follow recipes. Cooking-wise, this has never been an issue, but when it comes to baking, 9/10 times, it ends in fucking disaster. Luckily, granola is pretty fool-proof, and I used PTK’s recipe as a base for mine. Because this was our first time making something like this, I stuck a bit closer to the original than I normally would, but it turned out like a dream!

While Piggle napped, I got all of the ingredients set up. If you’ve never worked with a toddler in the kitchen, I highly suggest you do this. Not only does it save time and keep their attention a bit longer, it is way more fun for him to choose what order things go into the bowl.

Side note: I added all-spice (not in the original recipe) and the brown sugar to the oats ahead of time—sugar is a bitch to clean up!

Because everything was already waiting for him, he was able to dive right in, and I was actually able to let him lead the activity.

Instead of dictating a recipe to him, he was able to exude his own creativity, and it gave him a sense of independence.

He was actually pretty neat about it, too! I was fully expecting my kitchen to explode in a shower of various nuts and seeds, but things didn’t really get messy until he decided hands made better stirring implements.

He did an amazing job of putting everything together, and we used the activity to expand his vocabulary; we talked about our action words (stirring, pouring, dumping, mixing, combining…), and we used our descriptive words (color, texture, sound when eaten, smell).

I can’t even begin to tell you how phenomenal this was! I ate 90% after he went to bed, and the boy pigged out on the other 10% with some vanilla yogurt all the next day—in fact, I think that’s all he ate.

recipe really is amazing, but here is my variation for convenience’s sake:

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Spray your rimmed cookie sheet with spray (trust me—you’ll thank me)

Mix all of the ingredients together, in no particular order, and press flat onto the pan…my batch filled 4 cookie sheets.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the granola every 15 minutes.

When you take it out for the final time, resist the temptation to snarf it all back—it’ll be hot as fuck (I speak from experience). Let it cool off, and then either stuff your face or pack it away in an airtight container. It should keep for awhile at room temperature, but I always stash a bit away in the freezer.

See? Not all that different from the original, but both are incredibly delicious. Honestly, granola is incredibly versatile and forgiving. You can do pretty much anything! Give it a try and let me know how it turns out! If you change the recipe at all, tell me what you did, so I can try it, too!

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After making my

(which failed miserably today), I also decided to take a look at some other areas I could improve. One of them was spending more one on one time with Piggle. I really took for granted how easily he slipped into sibling-hood. He never showed any signs of regression or jealousy. In the past few weeks, though, it seems to have finally clicked. Sequel is here to stay, and she requires a lot of Mommy’s time and attention.

I spend at least an hour crying after he’s gone to bed—every. single. night. I feel so guilty. I feel the withdrawal and resentment radiating off of him, and it absolutely kills me. I wish there was a way to make him understand all of it, but even I’m having a hard time comprehending. The past year (almost to the day) has been such a shit show! There have been very few high points for both Piggle and myself.

I plan to change that.

Every week, I will be taking Piggle out on a date. Sequel will be Husband’s responsibility unless she needs to eat. I need my boy to know that, regardless of how overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted I am, he is my everything. Last week, we went to the . This week, we picked our pumpkin!

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Karma hates me! As soon as my bed rest was lifted, the weather turned to crap! Piggle and I have been holed up in the house, trying to simultaneously avoid a case of pneumonia and dying of boredom. The latter is definitely our biggest concern.

Even with my arsenal of Pinterest activities (you can see my obsessive pinning ), we’re both running on short fuses. There’s only so many rainy day crafts a person can take before going batty. We’ve run out of motivation to try anything new, and we’ve been falling back on our old favorites like painting and sensory play.

The other day, I’d had enough of the inside of my house, so I packed Piggle into the car and we headed to the dollar store—if not for anything more than to see another human being. I had no intentions of buying anything. I really just needed to give the boy a change of scenery. Of course, if you’ve ever walked into a dollar store, you know very well you can’t leave without spending your life savings on things you will never need.

Luckily for my wallet, I had a stroke of genius while I was there, and though what I bought wasn’t essential to our existence, it did provide me with several hours of toddler distraction! The best part? It cost me less than $10!!

Voila! Piggle’s new sensory bin!

Pretty awesome, right? And the best part (other than the price) is that it is so interchangeable! It’s a new experience for him every time!

Here’s a quick cost breakdown, in case you are considering one for your kiddo:

Large Cat Litter Bin: $3.50

Astroturf (fake grass): $3 (I bought 2 different kinds)

River Rocks: $1

Fake Flowers: $1

Total: $8.50

I already had a ton of animals to throw in there, but those are also available at most dollar stores and wouldn’t break the bank.

I put a drop of lavender oil on some of the flowers for a heightened sensory experience, but that is totally optional.

Of course, I’ll likely keep adding to this bin. Maybe a magnifying glass for looking at bugs and some water/water-like substance for example. Like I said, it’s so easy to switch things up with this. The possibilities are endless—and that goes for the imaginative play aspect as well.

Even in the few minutes it’s taken me to write this post, we’ve already added a food dish and log house for the animals! See? Endless!

It took me all of ten seconds to throw together, and Piggle has spent every waking minute playing between this and his bin of cornmeal. Thank god because mama is too exhausted to come up with anything more creative!

If you need more sensory bin ideas, check out .

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