I picked Emmet up from preschool the other day and he had a note in his backpack about their upcoming valentine's day festivities. So of course, rather than doing the dishes, folding the laundry, or any number of other things on my to do list, I designed valentines for his class instead. AND I figured, since I was designing cute little valentines I might as well just make a free printable for anyone else to use too!
There are two printables available; You're the Cat's Meow and I'm Wild about you, both feature the same font and illustrated hearts. They look super cute on their own OR you can have your little help decorate them even more. I had Emmet decorate them with painted circles and with crayons. See examples (and further instructions below)
Download them here and find the instructions below:
To make them:
1. Download the PDF and Print on card stock (card stock)
2. Cut out the valentines
3. Punch holes on the two dots OR use a ball point pen to poke holes (my hole punch couldn't reach)
4. Poke baker's twine (find mine here) through both holes from the front side.
5. Slip an animal, cats for the cat's meow and wild animal in the I'm wild about you (cats and wild animals), through the loop created on the front side and tie the twine in the back.
Extension for kids #1: I had Emmet paint pieces of paper (he had a blast! We used a variety of colors and tried to cover the entire paper). Once his paintings were dry I used my circle punch (similar) to punch out circles. I put dots of glue on the empty spaces on his valentines and had him press the circles paint side up on each dot. Cute, crafty, great for fine motor, AND they have some ownership in the valentines rather than just having mama (or dada) make them.
Extension for kids #2: Let them decorate them with crayons before poking the holes. A lot easier than the painted circles, same sense of ownership, but a little less cute.
You: Are nine months old. Love your mama (a lot). Snuggle on occasion, but mostly are on the move. Rarely play with your own toys. Would rather play with Emmet's toys, random bits of trash, Moose's things, etc. Can crawl (sort of - you are very quick, but aren't up on hands and knees yet). Like to stand at the coffee table, but fall on occasion. Eat almost anything your mama gives you (except pureed pees, you don't like them pureed). Love it when Emmet pays attention to you. Love it when dada gets home at the end of the day. Aren't quite sleeping through the night yet, but might soon? please?
Mama: Is obsessed with you. Loves it when you snuggle, your little head nuzzled into my shoulder is my favorite. Loves your giggle, especially your fresh-up-from-nap giggle. Loves watching you play with your brother. Can't quite keep up with you, you always manage to get into something before I find you. Is trying to feed you lots of fruits and vegetables. Is honestly tired of sharing a room with you, but knows I'll probably miss you when you are gone. Can't wait to get to know you as your personality develops!
We had a great 2018! Our family got a little bigger and we spent a lot of time together! Here are a few of my favorite moments from this past year.
In January this year I had my maternity pictures taken by my wonderful friend, Sara. I loved how they all turned out, but mostly I loved this picture of Emmet and I. He and I spend a LOT of time watching movies as it was too cold to spend a lot of time outside and I was also very tired.
In February I turned 27 AND Emmet and I got really into painting! He has been painting quite a lot every since and I am so glad we started!!
In March we eagerly awaited the arrival of baby #2 (Henry). We spent a lot of time going for walks, painting, prepping the house, and imagining what life would be like once he arrived.
In April our sweet little Henry was born! He came into this world a sweet, calm, and happy little guy and brightened all of our lives. April was spent mostly at home with both boys and family coming and going to meet him.
In May we celebrated Emmet's second birthday! It's still so hard to believe he has already been in the world for 2 (now two and a half!) years! We also spent a little bit of time out in the flint hills with Dave's family, which is always fun!
In June Emmet, Henry, and I spent a lot of time outside! Going for walks, watering the plants, playing in the kiddie pool in the back yard.
In July we traveled to Kansas City for my dear friend, Natalie's, wedding. It was so nice to see all of my old college roommates and let loose! Plus the little boys looked super cute all dressed up.
In August we went with my family to Breckenridge, CO and stayed in the most wonderful little AirBnb. We got to meet my brother's girlfriend, who is super sweet, had our 2nd Clark family cooking contest, and spent a lot of time singing, hiking, and playing games. The best part though was hanging out with this nakie little guy on the beach and watching him play with "dicks" (sticks).
September was mostly pretty quiet. We drove to Kansas City to celebrate Dave's grandpa's 80th birthday, but other than that we mostly stayed home.
In October I finally let myself do a few craft shows, which was so fun to get out and do again. We spent a long weekend in Manhattan with my mom, exploring and mostly just getting a little extra help with the boys! AND my favorite, we dressed up like the circus for Halloween.
In November we spend a lot of time walking and started spending a lot more time playing in the boys' room! Henry started sitting up and they started to play with each other a little bit, which was so fun to watch.
December has been our second most eventful month of the year (other than having Henry). Our favorite parts were spending a weekend at Clover Cliff Ranch with Dave's family and spending a few days at my parent's house with my family.
Emmet has been playing with his cars pretty consistently for over a year now. Racing them all over the house, off tables, under couches, and I've been meaning to find him the perfect play mat to drive them on for quite some time. A spot that had just enough of a concept for him to add a new layer of play to his cars (i.e. roads) but was still very open to creativity. I found a lot of different mats, most were super tacky and awful colors and the ones I loved were way to expensive. So I decided to make my own! And as soon as I had a mat planned out to make I began dreaming up trees, street signs, and more to go with it! I thought I would share DIY's for how to make the mat and the trees seen here. I'm sure I'll make and share more for his city some day!
Wooden Spheres (large, medium, small)
1/4 inch Dowels (cut to 2-2.5 inches)
Wooden Tree Bases
Drill and 1/4 inch Drill Bit
1. Use your 1/4 inch drill bit to drill a whole in each sphere and cone about 1/2 inch deep (as straight as possible).
2. Paint each sphere/cone 1/2 at a time, allowing the other half to dry before turning it over, at least two coats
3. Paint on a layer of mod podge on top of each painted sphere.
4. Apply wood glue into each hole on the wooden bases and press one side of a wooden dowel into each.
5. Once dry, apply glue into the wholes of each sphere and cone and glue them onto each tree base.
Faux Leather (I bought 1 yard)
1. Trim off the selvedge on the sides of the leather and round the corners
2. Plan and sketch your "map" - I decided to make mine loosely based on our neighborhood so I looked at google maps as I drew. I chose to have a track that went all the way around the outside, and then have streets fill the inside that are almost the same as the streets in our neighborhood.
3. Using a yard stick or ruler as a straight edge start drawing on your streets, making them at least 4-5inches wide (or measure your child's cars and make them slightly larger than their cars) and be careful to leave openings where one street meets another. Check in with your sketch often!
4. Add in little details! Add texture, like stripes, dots, grass, etc in the open spaces. Or add buildings, street lights, people, trees, the options are endless! I chose to leave ours fairly plain so that that could be added on top with blocks, etc.
Once they were both done I rolled it out on his floor and set up a few houses and trees. I showed him the roads explained that the roads were for driving on, just like how we see cars drive on the road when we are on our walks. And then I let him play. Sometimes it is hard to tell how much to help with play and how much to just let him explore. So far I have found though that if I give him just enough to get him started (or sometimes to redirect) his little imagination will do the rest.
When Emmet was teeny we literally had no idea what we were doing. Each time we went to see his doctor we were super surprised at what new things he told us. I remember his 4 month appointment being super exciting because his doctor told us we could start introducing rice cereal and purees. Partly because it just seemed really exciting to give him food AND because I was getting tired of breastfeeding so much (and pumping in the library closet at work).
Fast forward to this time around with Henry. This time I was expecting to start food at 4 months, but our doctor suggested waiting until 6 months instead..he has since switched over to the "baby led weaning". We decided to try it out but ended up caving and introducing rice cereal at 5 months to help fill his belly at night. If I could go back, I think I would have just started feeding Henry purees in addition to rice cereal around 5 months as well. He seemed ready.
From my understanding, when practicing baby-led weaning, you wait until babies show readiness signs for feeding themselves and you simply start placing small pieces of food in front of them for them to eat. So after our 6 month appointment we tried for a few days and I found it incredibly inefficient, at least for having 2 kids around. So instead I started introducing purees and putting out small pieces for him to practice with at the same time.
When Emmet was little I was still working and the idea of making our own purees seemed really daunting, so we bought the plastic ones from the grocery store. This time around I also decided to brave making my own baby food because a) I have more time and b) because we are trying to waste less and the idea of throwing out 3+ plastic containers a day (aka 21 little plastic containers a WEEK) seemed incredibly wasteful. As it turns out it is not hard at all! I spend a lot of time in our kitchen anyways with Emmet on eating or making art at the dining room table, so chopping up a few vegetables and steaming them doesn't seem to add too much to our day.
I think what made it less scary to start out was finding the cookbook, The Big Book of Organic Baby Food. We don't always adhere to organic part, BUT it spells out step by step how to make smooth purees, chunky purees, and more! Plus, it also suggests a variety of vegetables and flavor combinations that I wouldn't have ever thought to feed a baby. So hopefully with trying vegetables that Emmet never has, Henry ends up being a far less picky eater! Plus we get to rest easy knowing exactly what is in Henry's food and that he is getting a healthy diet.
We didn't completely drop the baby led weaning practice that our doctor suggested. Instead, I leave some of each vegetables steamed and not pureed. Then when I am feeding him a puree, I also give him some of the chunks instead. I just make sure they are small enough and soft enough that he can safely eat. Bananas, avocados, and the center of bread work really easily in a pinch too!
Making our own food also gives us the benefit of wasting FAR LESS plastic and trash in general. We use only glass, silicone, wood and metal when possible, and only things that are entirely reusable. We also have been composting all of the vegetable scraps in hopes of using it in our garden in the spring (to grow Henry even more vegetables!) Below are some of the supplies we use:
The Big Book of Organic Food -
Glass Jars - I used 4 oz jam jars that are now sold out on amazon, but these are similar in function and size. Bonus, they are perfect for storing baby food and feeding babies from AND they can be reused for something else later on.
Silicone Freezer Tray - For freezing 2 oz portions of food to use later. The recipe book uses frozen portions to make the combination purees (aka apple & pear puree, etc)
Ninja Blender - I used this blender until I warped the plastic by putting in food too hot, whoops. Now we use our Ninja Blender and it works just as well.
Re-Usable Baby Food Pouches - Emmet got really into these pouches at about 1 year, they were really handy for letting him feed himself a puree so I could get some things done. We used disposable ones then, and again felt really wasteful. These are reusable and dishwasher safe!
Silicone Bib - Keeps food off of Henry AND it is dishwasher safe. You are welcome.
Bamboo Baby Spoons - We also use their plates, bowls, and child sized cutlery for Emmet.
Stock Pot with Steamer Insert - The book has you steam just about everything, this one works just great.