Tag Archives: activities

What’s in the Box? #78

What's in the Box?

My apologies for the tardiness of this post but Harper and I have been busy this week soaking up all that Santa Barbara has to offer before we head home.  We are blessed to be able to visit such a beautiful place, but the best part of Santa Barbara is our wonderful friends.  Here is a peek at what we have been up to this week:

Play dates at the park…

Play dates at the park

Pool time fun…

Swimming in the pool

Picking produce with friends…

Picking

Stopping to smell the flowers…

Sunflower

Boat rides in the harbor…

Lil Toot

and taking in beautiful sunsets…

Sunset

We are definitely going to miss this place, but are looking forward to being back home with Daddy :)

Now, without further ado, lets get “produce wasted!” (my own little spin on a popular movie line…name it!)

Our party last week was rockin! 19 link ups?!  The most we have had in a while.  Makes a veggie-obsessed, mommy blogger like me very happy :)  And you know what else makes me very happy?  Zucchini.  Especially when it’s hidden inside a chocolate waffle (Thanks Kirsten for taking my love of zucchini to the next level) or shredded into a savory loaf of bread.  It truly is the essence of summer.

And like the groundhog in February, a zucchini in my box this week means that summer will be around for at least a few more weeks (Full Disclosure:  I’m no meteorologist, it’s only a theory.  Just go with it.)

Not only did I get a pair of zucchinis, check out what else came in my box…

What's in the Box? #78

A rainbow of delicious colors.  And I’m loving nature’s candy again.  A bunch of red, crunchy grapes.  They make my world go round.  And no, I didn’t share.

But I was willing to share some of my other goodies.  I sliced up the apples for a picnic at the park.  Steamed the broccoli for my little veggie lover as a side to her lunch (she practically ate the whole head herself).  And the basil along with a few leaves of kale got thrown into the food processor for a batch of pesto.  Delish!

The oranges have inspired me to make a batch of muffins which will help to balance out the bowls of salad I will be eating thanks to the size of that head of lettuce.

I like my spaghetti squash simply roasted and tossed with some butter and parmesan cheese.  Although the fresh tomatoes would be a great addition to the squash in the form of homemade sauce.  In fact, I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Cheers to a fabulous weekend!  I hope it’s filled with as much fun and food as you can handle :)

Your turn:  What are some of your favorite ways to use the fruits and veggies shown?  Any special recipe, tips or tricks you’d like to share?  Looking forward to reading your responses :) 

Linking up for the first time?  Click here for more info…and Welcome!

PS:  Don’t forget to tell your readers about the party by linking back to this post and grabbing the official “What’s in the Box?” button at the bottom of my blog.  Thanks!

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What’s in the Box? Recipe Roundup #13

What's in the Box?

Our last week in Branson was a blast!  We made sure to hit up all the local attractions before we headed out west.  Branson is known for their live shows and we were lucky enough to check out a few of them including The Price is Right LIVE.

The Price is Right LIVE

Harper could care less about winning a new car, she was all about the pretty model’s sparkly dresses :)

Branson also has a fun theme park called Silver Dollar City.  They have everything from rides, to live entertainment to crafty souvenirs.  It’s a great place to run around and enjoy yourself for the day (even when it’s 102 degrees!).

SDC

Finally, no trip to Branson would be complete without a ride on the ducks.  And I’m not talking about the ones that go “quack”.  I’m talking about the amphibious vehicles that were made famous during WWII.  This is Harper’s second time this summer riding a duck.  First as a viking during our trip to Ireland…Viking Duck

and now as a duckling herself…Ride the Ducks

Being a tourist is fun!

And of course we spent lots and lots of time with family.  Including, Harper’s new BFF, her Great Uncle John…

Holding hands with Uncle John

Harper and I are sure going to miss Branson, but are looking forward to another visit real soon :)

But enough about me, let’s talk veggies.

Last week we had a total of 13 link ups.  And to be frank, it’s summer produce at it’s best.  One of my favorite summer veggies is sweet corn.  And when you throw fresh kernels into a fresh batch of batter and deep fry it, the result is pure bliss.  (Speaking of deep frying, did you check out these crispy fried shallots?  The Angels are definitely singing for this one…).  Or you could toss it with some zucchini, leeks and a handful cheese and you got yourself an awesome summer pizza.  Oh, the possibilities :)  A big thanks to everyone who participated.  I just can’t get enough or your CSA goodness.

And because I am feeling extra sweet today (and in need of a sugar fix), here are some of my favorite CSA inspired desserts (in alphabetical order…).  Enjoy!

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp - In Her Chucks

Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Beet Cake - In Her Chucks

Carrot Cookies

Carrot Cookies - In Her Chucks

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars - In Her Chucks

Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes

Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes - In Her Chucks

Your turn: What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate your CSA fruits and veggies into simple and sinful desserts?  Looking forward to drooling over your ideas.  

Linking up for the first time?  Click here for more info…and Welcome!

PS:  Don’t forget to tell your readers about the party by linking back to this post and grabbing the official “What’s in the Box?” button at the bottom of my blog.  Thanks!

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23 Months and 1 Week

23 months

Life with a toddler is full.  Full of love, full of life, full of laughs, full of energy, full of goodness.  Life with a toddler is fun.  Fun at the store, fun in the car, fun at the park, fun at home.  Life with a toddler is busy.  Busy reading, busy playing, busy cleaning up, busy eating.  Life with a toddler is the most amazing thing there is.  As much as I struggled with Harper becoming a toddler, we have finally hit our groove and life is good.  There is nothing I enjoy more than chatting with Harper about her day, or building igloos on her floor or helping her draw a castle.  Watching her grow up is so awesome.  She never ceases to amaze me with her ever-expanding vocabulary, increased independence and spunky attitude.  It’s hard to believe my little girl is going to be 2 next month…crazy!  Which means in 9 months she will be in preschool…even crazier!  So I am going to continue to soak up each moment with this little peanut and bask in her joyful glow.

Harper’s Firsts

First time in Daycare:  Being a SAHM, I have never had to take Harper to daycare.  However, we recently began going to a new church that has an awesome children’s program.  The first time we went to service we happened to walk through the daycare entrance.  Harper was immediately impressed with their large collection of dress up clothes, coloring supplies and of course their pet fish.  They asked us if we wanted to leave her.  Freddie and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.  Why not?  She seemed to be comfortable there and our friends had raved about the volunteers.  So we gave it a shot and Harper LOVED it!  So much so she will ask us during the week if we are going to church tomorrow.  It was a nice break for Freddie and I to enjoy the church service without distractions and a great opportunity for Harper to meet other children and learn to be more independent.

First Christmas at Home:  For Harper’s first Christmas, we celebrated with my family in Texas.  This year, it was nice to spend a quite holiday at home, just the three of us.  Harper sure didn’t waste anytime barreling through her gifts.  Her favorite?  The sand and water table from “Amma”.  A big hit!

Christmas

First Time in a Recording Studio:  Harper has been flexing her golden pipes since she was born.  But this past week she got to showcase her talent on a whole new level…mama’s CD :)  I couldn’t put out my children’s music CD without singing a few duets with my favorite partner.  She was a total pro!  Can’t wait to share the final product with you soon.

Harper Sings

Harper’s Favs

Favorite Toy:  Harper got some awesome toys for Christmas.  But her favorite has got to be this adorable Bus her GG gave her.  It goes perfectly with her dollhouse and she loves to take the little people for rides “all through the town” as she sings her favorite song.

Favorite Song:  Harper’s really digging “The Wheels on the Bus” song these days.  What is even more fun is that whenever we go for walks and see one, we start to sing it right on the spot.  Love when she does the little hand movements too.  Precious!

Favorite Book:  It’s been a while since we have visited the library for story time but it’s definitely a highlight of our week.  It’s a fun way to learn about new books and get the chance to hang out with her friends.  During our last story time, Harper fell in love with the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and has been talking about it ever since.  So you can imagine her excitement when Santa brought her her own copy.  It’s the top requested book at bedtime now.

Harper Sees…

This past month we have been all about the sea life.  We visited an aquarium and a local sea center and Harper was in awe of all the various creatures.  Harper loves the water and enjoyed learning about the different animals that live in the ocean.

Penguins:  Harper hasn’t had the opportunity to see the movie Happy Feet before but nonetheless she fell in love with the little birdies dressed in tuxedos.  The aquarium had a cool underwater tunnel where you could hang out and watch the penguins swim and dive.

penguins

Seals:  Harper couldn’t get enough of these adorable and silly animals.  She would crack up when they would come up to the glass and make a big splash before swimming away.

Seals

Jellyfish:  Out of all the animals, I think Harper liked the jellyfish the most (she won’t stop talking about them).  Her favorite were the little baby ones that were the size of a fingernail.  She even got a chance to touch one of them (although I am not so sure she liked it).

jellyfish

The countdown has officially begun.  In 23 days Harper Marie will be 2.  These last 2 years have flown by so I can’t even imagine how quickly this next month will go.  Lots of fun and exciting things happening this month.  February is filled with birthdays, anniversaries, family trips and of course lots of love.  But in the midst of all the craziness I am looking forward to enjoying the quiet moments together.  The snuggles during nap time, making pancakes for daddy on the weekends, and her new favorite activity, bubble baths.  Here’s to the next few weeks of Harper’s “ones”.

Happy 23 Month Birthday Mamas!  Mommy and Daddy love you :)

PS: Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!  You have until February 1st to get your entries in.  Remember to leave a comment on the original post letting me know that you have completed the tasks.  Your comments act as your entry into the giveaway.  Good luck!

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22 Months

22 Months

Only 2 more months until my little princess is 2 and life is SOOO good!  I love waking up to her smile every morning and seeing the world through her fresh pair of eyes.  Her smile lights up the room and she brings joy to the lives of everyone she meets.  Harper always has a song in her heart and isn’t shy to belt it out.  You can find her serenading her “babies” to sleep, practicing her abc’s while we are out and about or simply singing a tune to herself as she stacks her blocks.  She is living life to the fullest, without inhibitions.  And as much as I want to hold her close, this mama bird is proud to watch her little birdie soar.

Harper’s Firsts:

First Thanksgiving in Texas:  Once a year my family gets together for a holiday.  In the past we have always done Thanksgiving, but last year we choose Christmas.  This year we were back to our regular routine and were happy to spend Turkey Day in Texas.  My sister recently moved to a beautiful 37 acre farm and Harper loved nothing more than to explore every inch.  She enjoyed spending time with her cousins and going on daily walks around the property.  Can’t wait to make another trip back there soon.

Texas

First Camel Ride

As I mentioned before, this year we visited a Christmas tree farm where we got to cut down our own tree.  Not only did we ride a train to get there but once we arrived, there were many more options for transportation.  Camel ride anyone?

camel

I was worried that Harper was going to be scared, but she thought it was so cool!  Now every time we see a camel in a book or television show, she says, “Camel, ride it”.  Guess I need to look into finding our own camel to ride…Santa?

First Pony Ride

Why stop at a camel ride?  The Christmas tree farm also offered pony rides.  But this time Harper had to ride it on her own.  Again, she did awesome and made sure to request “the black one”.  My sister (the horse trainer) would be so proud :)

Horse

Harper’s Favs:

Favorite Toy:  So I guess this is not technically a toy, but Harper has recently decided that she loves blankets.  I always had a blanket companion growing up.  His name was “budda” and he was around until I was 17 (when I left him on a plane :(…).  But Harper never seemed to take to the many blankets she had before until one day she picked out a pink and purple blanket from her closet and now has made them part of the family.  And in case you were wondering, she named them “pink” and “purple”.

Favorite Song:  E-I-E-I-O (otherwise known as Old MacDonald) is one of my most requested songs in music class.  And now it is the song Harper requests most throughout her day.   She loves to choose which animals are going to be on the farm and even has a special dance that goes along with it (wish I had a video of it…it’s SOOO cute!).     

Favorite Book:  My mom loves to travel.  She also loves to send Harper “souvies” from each of her trips.  On her most recent trip to Argentina, she sent Harper a book about colors that was written in Spanish.  So now, not only does Harper like to practice her colors in English, but she is learning them in Spanish too.  Gracias Abuela!

Harper Goes:

For a 22 month old, Harper Marie is one busy girl (I guess I am the one to blame for that…).  Don’t get me wrong, there are days when we do our best to stay in our PJs all day and lounge.  But on other days we love to go out and get involved in fun activities.  Here are some of the places Harper has been going lately…

On Play Dates…

Playdates

Harper loves all of her friends and enjoys getting together with them as much as she can.  After spending time apart, Harper is excited to have her friend Robin back from the UK.  On our most recent play date together, the little ones got busy on some beautiful Christmas decorations to help spread the holiday cheer.

To the Park…

Park

We are extremely lucky to have so many wonderful parks in our area.  There is nothing like setting a toddler loose in the park to run and jump and play.  Let’s see…does Harper look like she is having a good time?

To See Santa…

Santa

What would the holidays be without a visit to see Santa?  I can’t say it was Harper’s favorite outing, but at least she didn’t cry (then again, I didn’t push the issue of having her sit on the man’s lap alone…then we might have had a problem).

With only a few more days left until Christmas, it’s hard to believe Harper will be celebrating her second holiday season already.  Time really does fly when you are having fun.  My little girl is growing up fast and she isn’t looking back.

Happy 22 Month Birthday Precious Pie!  Mommy and Daddy love you :)

PS:  Thanks Hillary for the awesome pic!

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Green Kid Crafts

Growing up, one of my favorite activities was arfs and cracks (or for those of you who don’t speak 3-year-old, arts and crafts).  It was a fun way to bond with my mom while at the same time foster my creativity.  We had it all…glitter, feathers, and construction paper galore!  I could spend hours working on projects and letting my imagination fly.  Those were the days  :)

So you can imagine how excited I was when Penny Bauder, the CEO and founder of Green Kid Crafts, contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a review of their monthly craft subscription box.  My answer…a cheerful and enthusiastic, “Yes!”.

As much as I have loved all of my subscription boxes to date, I think Green Kid Crafts might just be my favorite.  As a mother, there is nothing more important than spending quality time as a family.  But sometimes, you get stuck in a rut, looking around desperately for new activities to enjoy together.  With Green Kid Crafts, the entire family can engage in eco-friendly, monthly projects that not only help to spark creativity but cultivate a respect and love for the environment.  Fun with a purpose. Gotta love that!

What sets Green Kid Crafts apart from other craft subscription services is that they are the only carbon neutral service in the nation.  Every project created with Green Kid Crafts is 100% earth friendly.  For supplies, they avoid plastics and foams in favor of materials that are natural, recycled and good to the earth.  They are also passionate about avoiding waste, so they use minimal and 100% recycled materials for shipping and all of their craft projects are packaged in plant-based compostable cello bags.

This month, the box contained a wooden wind chime, pirate loot, and “All About Me” personal scrapbook project.  Each craft was individually packaged, containing an info sheet and sustainable materials needed to complete the projects.

Wooden Wind Chime

Wind chimes are widely used around the world.  They are said to have a healing effect on the mind and body.  Their sound can help release stress and calm your thoughts.  Many people consider wind chimes to be good luck.  Harper enjoyed the delicate ring that it made and paraded around the house striking the chimes together.

This project was fun and easy.  I love the idea of having a blank slate and variety of different materials at your finger tips.  Children have the option of using paint or markers to color both sides of the wind chime.  After completing the background of their choice, there are mosaic squares and sequins provided to use as adornment.  Once the wind chime is finished, this project becomes a beautiful ornament to hang from a door or tree, and plays peaceful and delightful music.

Pirate Loot

As summer kicks off and children begin to enjoy weekend trips to the beach, their imaginations will run wild with this fun and creative pirate loot craft.  Complete with an eye patch, pirate hat and hidden treasure, this project becomes a fairy tale in action.

This project helps to incorporate some great basic skills.  Cutting is always an important skill to practice and this craft makes it easy as the children just cut along the dotted lines.  They can also work on cutting circles to make the treasure coins.  Children get a chance to practice their writing skills by adding their name or decorations with chalk.

“All About Me” Personal Scrapbook 

Being that Father’s Day was a few days ago, I decided to make the “All About Me” scrapbook into a Happy Father’s Day scrapbook. I love to make collages, and nowadays it is hard to find the time.  So this project was the perfect excuse to tear through some old magazines and favorite photos and go crazy.

This project was my favorite of all three because the materials were so diverse. They included recycled and salvaged ribbon, fabric squares, allergen-free stickers, recycled paper and recycled collage shapes.  There were so many materials to choose from!  The paper mache accordion book makes the perfect compact display for pictures while allowing for plenty of room for additional decor.

In addition to the three packets of crafts, there was another booklet filled with even more ideas for wind, pirate and book projects.  Suggested materials include supplies commonly found around the house.  So really, just when you think you are all crafted out, the fun continues!  After reading through the various craft ideas, I will never recycle another toilet paper roll again.  Who knew how many fun projects you can make with them :)

Even though Harper is still too young to enjoy this craft box, I was thoroughly impressed by Green Kid Crafts and their overall product.  I would highly recommend this to anyone with children of pre-school age and older.  I can only imagine how much fun Harper and I are going to have in a few years.  But don’t think I didn’t have a ball creating these projects by myself.  The age range on the box might suggest kids 3-8 but this 29-year-old kid was having a blast!

Not only does Green Kid Craft’s website have tons of wonderful ideas for crafting, but they dedicate an entire page to green parenting as well.  Check out their suggestions for green food blogs, products, and health and safety resources.

Interested in ordering a Green Kid Crafts box of your own?  Monthly memberships are available for only $19.95.  Looking for an awesome birthday or holiday gift for your child and their friends?  How about a gift subscription for three, six, or twelve months.  And there is even an option to include additional supplies for a sibling too!  For a limited time, Green Kid Crafts is offering $10 off your first craft box!  Just use the code: SUMMER when checking out.

*Full Disclosure: Green Kid Crafts did provide me with a box free of charge. I was not paid to write this post. With exception of some of the factual information given about the various products, all opinions regarding the products are my own and 100% honest.

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Musical Mondays: Starting Early

There is no greater gift than the gift of music.  One of the things that makes music so wonderful is that it has no limits, especially when it comes to age.  Which means, you can start making music with your little one as early as 6 months in utero.  And the sooner you start,  the greater the benefits.

When it comes to music education, starting your little one in music soon after birth can give your child a jump-start on learning.  Like I have mentioned before, we are all born with a natural ability to sing.  Which is why we find that our youngest babies and toddlers can easily learn to match a pitch because they are no yet distracted by formal language, allowing them to easily focus on the task at hand.  Music has the tenancy to encourage babies to speak sooner and more clear as singing enhances how the child enunciates and also brings phonetic awareness.

Young children learn music similarly to the way they learn to speak.  Research and practice have taught us that children who are spoken to will learn to speak and that children who are read to will learn to read.  So, doesn’t it seem obvious that children who are sung to will learn to sing?  Children learn to speak and make music by listening and repeating.  Music also teaches children to make fine distinctions in what they’re hearing.  Training your child’s ear to internalize rhythms and tones at an early age can help children recognize emotion in spoken language later on, helping to promote social and emotional skills.  In addition, music teaches children that they can use a variety of tools to communicate their thoughts and feelings, including sound and movement.

Music classes are a great opportunity for our little ones to become familiar with social settings.  Group music instruction provides a foundation for the development of healthy social skills by encouraging cooperation, turn-taking and sharing.  In the process of singing, dancing and having fun, children learn expectations of how to behave in a structured setting.

While early music teachers agree that musical skill can be learned at any age, natural talent is nourished in environments where children as young as newborns are repeatedly exposed to quality music.  These early experiences provide a foundation for future success as children who get music education from a young age will simply think of music as something they could always do.  Remember, we love what we know.  So through repetition, our little ones gain the confidence they need to build on their musical foundation.

While we are busy enhancing your child’s language, social and emotional development, why not increase spatial intelligence?  Experts say music forms strong connections in the brain that are the same as those used in cognitive skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and mathematics.  Music helps the brain lay down neural pathways that will be used later in life or later for higher learning.  Exposure to weekly music education provides a practical foundation for success in a classroom setting as musical activities help children to focus their thinking, encouraging them to follow directions in a fun and creative way.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better?  The incredible benefits of early music education are all happening while you and your baby are enjoying the pleasure of music together.  Does life get any better than that?  So, what are you waiting for…hurry up and get started!  Time is ticking…

This photo was taken by my good friend and talented photographer Rachel Bradshaw of Little Sparrows Photography.

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Musical Mondays: Hello Song

In my weekly music classes, each lesson begins with a “Hello Song”.  It is typically a simple folk song in which the lyrics were changed to fit the purpose of my class.  Besides being a good marker for the beginning of class, it is a wonderful activity to help introduce and instill the musical concepts that we practice weekly.

While I play the “Hello Song” on the guitar, my students and their parents join me in singing along.  Parents tap or bounce their child to the steady beat.  I like to sing a few verses that suggest tapping the steady beat on different body parts such as their shoulders, knees, head, etc.  This is a great way to sneak in learning opportunities for labeling body parts which help to promote language development.

After practicing different ways to play the steady beat, we go around the circle and acknowledge each student in the class by singing their name.  Using children’s names in the “Hello Song” is important for many reasons.  A child’s name is their identity.  When you greet a child by their name it helps to validate who they are as well as is affirms their presence in class, therefore promoting self-awareness and aiding in the development of self-esteem.  This is also a great opportunity to teach the concept of taking turns.  As we move around the circle from child to child they learn that the spotlight will be on them when it is their turn and then move on to the next child.  It becomes a subtle way to teach children how to share attention.

Singing the “Hello Song” is also a wonderful social activity.  As we are singing and acknowledging our friends, we like to encourage children to wave and greet the other students in the class.  This can be a great way for the children to learn about the social rituals in our society.  It also helps each child to feel welcomed and included as part of a group activity.

Finally, singing the “Hello Song” at the beginning of every class helps to promote routine.  When the children hear the “Hello Song”, they know what to expect.  Making them aware of what comes next helps them to experience a comforting sense of self-control.  It is a simple tool to make transitions between activities smoother, both in music class and life itself.  Taking the song home with you and making up your own verses for bath time, clean up and meals can help make mundane tasks fun and exciting.

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Musical Mondays: Lullabies

As infants, some of our first and fondest memories of music are of a loving parent singing a familiar lullaby to us as they rocked us to sleep. It provided us with a sense of security, calmness and love. Since response to sound is one of the most highly developed abilities in a newborn, it is important for infants to be nurtured musically. And lullabies are the perfect opportunity for physical and emotional attachment.

Lullabies have a magic to them that seems to easily sooth babies who are fussy and tired. Babies tend to respond best to songs that are familiar to them. They love what they know. So repetition is key when introducing your little one to their favorite lullaby. While I was still pregnant with Harper, a close friend and mentor of mine suggested that at six months in utero I begin to sing Harper a lullaby. So for the months leading up to her birth, we would sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to her as often as we could. Once Harper was born she was easily soothed by this song, as it was familiar to her and would remind her of the comfort and security that she felt in my womb.

Besides using lullabies to sooth an infant, rocking and singing to music helps infants become accustomed to the feelings of sound and motion. This type of gentle introduction to music helps to reduce babies natural reaction to startle due to sudden movement and loud noises or sounds. In addition, gentle rocking to the pulse of the music helps to instill that sense of the steady beat.

Another benefit of lullabies is the communication that occurs between parent and baby. It is not uncommon for an infant to respond directly to the singer by cooing and babbling, thus encouraging the development of speech and singing. In a recent conversation that I had with my dad, he recalled a special moment that he says he will never forget. When I was a baby, my dad used to rock me to sleep and sing me a litany of lullabies. One night, in the middle of one of our favorite lullabies, I began to sing along with him. I was still fairly young and had yet to say my first word, but I began to accompany him in perfect pitch as we engaged in an unexpected duet. Now that I have become a mother myself, and have experienced this with my own daughter, I can truly say, it is one of the most rewarding moments of my life. There is nothing sweeter than singing a lullaby with your baby.

Unfortunately, so many parents feel inadequate in making music on their own. They are insecure about the quality of their singing voices and as a result are ashamed to even attempt to sing to or with their children. But when it comes to singing to your children, the good news is, regardless if you can sing in tune not, they think you have the most beautiful voice in the world. What is most important is that you sing to your baby.

At the end of each of my music classes, I like to sing a few lullabies with my students and their parents. I enjoy it best when families share their own traditional lullabies with us. It becomes a wonderful opportunity for a cross-cultural musical experience and is a great way for all of us to learn a few new songs.

Having a small repertoire of favorites lullabies is a great tool to have in your back pocket. You never know when you might need to bust out a tune in the middle of the grocery store to calm your tired or fussy baby. But don’t feel limited to singing only music that is labeled “lullabies”. Try singing contemporary songs or show tunes. This is a great time to introduce your baby to lots of different styles of music. Remember, they love what they know, so repetition is key, especially with familiar recorded music and lullabies.

So go ahead and explore Pandora or iTunes and stock up on a short list of songs that you can easily memorize. Because one day, that memory you have of your parent singing you to sleep, will become their own.

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Musical Mondays: Movement with Scarves

I think it is safe to say that pretty much every baby gets a kick out of a good old-fashioned game of peek-a-boo.  It might seem like the simplest concept, but the joy it brings to their faces is infectious.  You can’t help but giggle.

Well, being that it is Musical Monday, lets spice up that game of peek-a-boo a bit and add a fun melody to it.  And then let’s explore the scarves a little more and see how many other fun activities we can enjoy with them.

In the instrument kit I told you about last week, there is a little red scarf.  We use this prop for lots of dancing and movement activities.  But of course, we can’t help but sneak a short game of peek-a-boo in too.  The scarves we use are see through so it’s not scary for the babies because they can still see their mommies and daddies through the fabric.  We like to take turns hiding between the babies and their parents.  Check out this fun tune for a new twist on this old favorite.

After we get our giggles out from playing peek-a-boo we like to take our scarves for a dance.  Playing a variety of different music encourages our little ones to explore new ways to move their bodies with their scarves.  Moving to music is a great way to promote the development of gross motor skills and rhythm.

What’s great about this activity is that it is an easy one for you to participate in at home.  All you need is some music and a bunch of light weight, colorful scarves.  You can purchase some here or check your local thrift shop for a cheap find.  You can also improvise by using handkerchiefs, cloth napkins, or bandanas.  Feel free to get creative.

Then, find some space that allows you and your little one to move about freely.  Lay out the scarves so that they are accessible to your little one, while choosing a few for yourself.  Turn on the music and begin to explore your own movement, making your scarf dance in time.  Your little one might just want to observe you for a while or they might just jump right in.  Either way, I like to label their actions.  For example, “Are you watching mama dance with her scarf?”.  Or, “I see you shaking your scarf.  Nice dancing with your scarf”.

As you move from song to song, switch out the music so that you can explore different tempos.  Help your little one to notice the contrast in the various music types by demonstrating them through your movements.  Float your scarves gracefully for slow music and jiggle them jauntily for quicker music.  Promote language development and color identification by saying, “Do you want a turn with the green one?” or “Is Mommy under this blue scarf?”

When you are all done, encourage your child to help you put the scarves neatly in a bag.  In my classes, we always sing the “Colors are Gliding” song which ends with a verse about folding.  It is a great way to teach our little ones how to take care of their things and doubles as a fun song to sing while doing laundry :)

Babies are born to dance.  Researchers have discovered that infants respond to the rhythm and tempo of music and even find it more engaging than speech.  This shows that babies may be born with a predisposition to move rhythmically in response to music.  It was found that the more the children were able to synchronize their movements with the music, the more they smiled.  So it is never to early to start moving and dancing with your baby.  And why not grab some scarves to go along for the ride :)

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