Saturday, May 31, 2014

Getting Artsy

The day before my mom left, we went to a ceramic studio in Linz and painted our own ceramics. I chose a flowered dessert plate and my mom made a door sign.


We spent three hours hanging out together, talking and creating some pretty cool pieces of art. Unfortunately, we discovered the ceramic studio a little late and our projects weren't ready before she went home.


We had such a great time picking out our pieces and then deciding on how to decorate them. My mom is very creative and very artsy. She made my project look like it was done by a toddler compared to her crazy free-handed painting skills. 


I know that paint and sip classes have become very popular in the  U.S. lately. I've decided to try and host something similar at the ceramic shop with some of the other English speaking Expats in the area. I think it'll be a great way to bring people together. I'm not very good at painting at all, but I had so much fun doing this with my mom.


They have two teachers to help with any questions you may have. You can walk in any time during their opening hours and start on a project. The staff is really friendly and helpful. It was a really great experience and I can't wait to go again.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Foam Dough

Monday afternoon after Alexa woke up from nap I was feeling frisky. I decided that it was definitely a messy play kind of day. I looked on my Pinterest wall to see what kind of play dough type recipe I could whip up and found foam dough. You can find the original Pinterest recipe here. I was not interested in making a whole ton of this foam dough without having first tested it out. Believe it or not, there are way too many Pinterest Fails out there. I came up with my own recipe that still allowed us to have a great time, but didn't waste all the shaving cream and corn starch in the house.

In a clean, dry bucket I placed 5 heaping tablespoons of corn starch. I let Alexa pick which color we would dye the foam dough. She chose yellow and blue. I added a little bit of yellow and a little bit of blue food coloring to a glass and poured a couple of tablespoons of water on top and mixed it together. We only have the gel food coloring, so I wanted it mixed with water before adding it to the bucket. I topped it with approximately 2-3 cups of shaving cream (really I just squirted the shaving cream out until I thought it was enough).


Alexa instantly grabbed for the shaving cream and put a handful of it in her mouth. She didn't mind how it tasted, however I told her that we don't eat shaving cream and she was satisfied enough not to do it again. I started mixing the ingredients together and it very quickly started to form a very soft dough. I grabbed some cups and clothespins to add to our sensory bucket. We played for over an hour with the green foam dough. At one point I added more shaving cream and the dough got very sticky and gooey. That was a great change in the sensory experience.

One of the reasons I liked this dough so much was that it changed as you played with it. As the shaving cream foam lost it's airyness, the dough seemed to dry up a bit. It continued to be maliable and soft and fun to play with whether extra gooey or dry. We will definitely play with this again.

I thought clean up was going to be pretty time consuming with this activity, but it wasn't. I dumped the bucket of dough into the garbage and was able to easily sweep up whatever had fallen onto the balcony floor.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rainbow Fruit Salad

We went to a barbecue over the weekend at my in-laws. I wanted to bring something, but I needed it to be quick and easy because I didn't have very much time to cook. I decided on a fruit salad. It was a big hit with everyone, including Alexa!

Since Alexa is obsessed with fruit, we always have quite a variety in the fridge. I got very lucky and was able to make a rainbow fruit salad for the cookout! I used cherries, cantaloupe, mango, grapes, blueberries and blackberries in my rainbow fruit salad. 

I think this is a great, kid friendly snack to make. The next time I make it, I will definitely let Alexa help pour the different fruits into the bowl. I think it is an easy and fun way to introduce colors to your kids!



What's your go to side dish or dessert for a summer barbecue?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Toddler Tantrums

Okay, I need advice, help, duct tape...something! Alexa has started with temper tantrums. She flails her head back and acts like a complete and total lunatic any time she does not want to do what I want her to do. Two perfect examples: getting in the stroller or sitting in her highchair. She does flip out a little bit if I tell her no, but those whine fests are very short lived. She has also started hitting and kicking. Right now she is only doing it to me, but it has got to stop. Anytime I try to change her diaper she goes totally crazy. A few people have suggested I completely ignore her when she throws a tantrum, tries to hit me or kicks me. I have tried this (and will continue trying it) since Tuesday. So far, the results have been good. Tuesday night, as soon as she started with throwing her head back and flailing about I put her down and turned my back on her. She carried on for a maximum of five seconds and then got bored and walked into the living room and played with her toys nicely. This is awesome! I was very pleased. She really hasn't thrown too many more fits since Tuesday night. She does NOT like to be ignored. However, she has continued to kick and hit me when I try and change her diaper. Wednesday morning I employed the "ignore her" tactic, but what I realized is that I still got kicked and she didn't get her diaper changed...that is not exactly the outcome I was looking for. I ended up holding her down with one of my legs (gently) as I changed her diaper on my bed. This was absolutely not ideal. She is a strong little bugger and can easily get away from me if she wants to. Without a second set of hands, I used my leg. Mother of the year? Probably not. I have tried saying "no hitting/no kicking," "that hurts mommy," "do nice," but none of it is working. I need some other tips or tricks or solutions or whatever you want to call them to try and get rid of the hitting and kicking spells. I have tried time out, but I'm not really sure if it is working. She is staying in where I put her - sitting in the corner, crying most of the time (I leave her there for 30 seconds max.) and gives me a big hug when I tell her she can get up, but she is still repeatedly hitting and kicking me. What else can I try???

Okay, mommy vent over. Thanks in advance for any help.

Does your toddler throw tantrums? How do you handle them?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sorry it's been so long...

We've been totally busy with my mom's visit, a trip to Italy and a budding toddler who now throws temper tantrums. It has been a busy week and it's only Wednesday! There's so much to tell you, but where to start?! I guess I'll start at the beginning, way back to when my mom first arrived.

My mom arrived on a Friday morning. I could not have been more excited and it was clear that Alexa knew something was up. The night before my mom arrived, she wound up in our bed...she hasn't left since. Clearly she doesn't do well with change.

As soon as my mom arrived the visiting, traveling and general grandmotherly obsessiveness began. Alexa is loving that her Gramma is here. She even gave her kisses today! A rare gift that she has only ever bestowed upon one other person other than myself, her Aunt Leslie.


We decided that on this visit we were going to show my mom a little bit of Europe. We decided on Italy and hit the ground running! We headed to Lido di Jesolo, a lagoon on the Adriatic Sea just north of Venice, for a short, but wonderful beach vacation. It was perfection. Seriously, per-fec-tion. In Linz, it had been rainy and cold and generally gross for days. When we drove through the mountains it actually was snowing at one point. This totally freaked me out. Who goes on a beach vacation in the snow??? However, as soon as we crossed the border into Italy it was like the gods knew I needed this vacation and the clouds parted and the sun started shining down on us. The closer we got to our location the more beautiful it became.

We had four days of sunshine, beach, eating, touring the area and family time. I could not have been happier with the way things went. Michael even loved it and he doesn't like the beach! I can't wait to plan a trip back to the area in the future.

After our return back to cold, wet and dreary Austria on Saturday night, the weather turned warm and sunny and we have been enjoying taking my mom around Linz, visiting the sites and experiencing a little Austrian culture and food. She definitely seems to be enjoying her trip. (Although I'm pretty sure she'd enjoy it even if we stayed home every day, just as long as she got to spend time with Alexa.)

Oh the tantrums...yeah, that's a whole blog entry of it's own!

I hope everyone has been enjoying the warm weather!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Popsicle Stick Color Matching and Sorting

Alexa has become obsessed with sorting things. She likes to sort pompoms into cups and Legos into bins. She'll sort spoons or blocks or anything else you give her a few of. I came up with a cool popsicle stick color sorting game for her using a small cardboard box, an Exacto knife, some markers and 8 popsicle sticks.


My original idea was that she could pull the popsicle sticks out of the box and put them back into the slits in the box. This would help her with fine motor skills and also introduce colors and matching at the same time. The idea was a success!


I did have to hold the box down for her so she could remove the sticks and then put them back in the slots. I wish I could figure out a way to weigh down the box so that in the future this can be an independent play activity. I'll have to work on that.

She had no problem pulling the sticks out. I was amazed at how easily she was able to put most of the sticks back into the slots. Her fine motor skills really have improved since we started letting her put money in her bank.


I love this simple activity because it is a progressive learning toy. Right now, she uses it to take the sticks out and put them back in. Next we will start working on color recognition and matching using the box. I can even see a mix and match game with this box in our future.

Have you come up with any non-traditional learning toys lately?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kids Concert

Last Wednesday, I took Alexa to her very first concert! It was at the Familienzentrum (the family center) close to our house. Bernhard Fibich is a children's singer here in Austria. He reminded me of Raffi. He was fun and silly and involved the kids in every single aspect of the concert. He had them up on their feet dancing and clapping. They jumped up and down and moved all over the audience. They were allowed to go up on stage and help him sing different songs. It was really cool.


Alexa was a little nervous at first, which completely surprised me. She absolutely loves music and dancing, which is why I thought to bring her to the concert in the first place. The first twenty minutes she clung to me and whined. At one point she started crying and  I thought we were going to have to leave. The next thing I know, she climbs off my lap and is spinning in circles and sitting with the other kids in the audience!





Her audience fright behind her, she ran up to all the kids and was saying hello to EVERYONE. She started dancing and clapping and my music lover was back! She was even brave enough to go up on stage!

video

Monday, May 12, 2014

Glitterific!

I was a brave and daring mama this week. I let Alexa color with markers AND I let her play with glitter and glue. I know, what the heck was I thinking?!?! There was glitter everywhere for days. I'm still finding it in random places (Michael's face). Alexa was amazed at the sparkly and shiny glitter.




She was even more excited when I let her pour it out all by herself. After she ended up with about a half a cup of glitter all over herself and the high chair my anxiety started rising, so we switched to markers. Right...markers...because that is less messy??

Since she was already covered in glitter and glue, I guess I figured what the heck?! She loved putting the caps back on the markers the most.

 
She liked coloring on her arms second best. She thought markers on the paper was okay. Figures.


 The rest of this week I think we'll stick to crayons and a coloring book. Maybe next week we'll break out the messy stuff again!

M is for Mother

I hope everyone had a very special Mother's Day yesterday. I am so happy to have been able to spend Mother's Day with my mom this year! We had a great bbq with my in-laws on Saturday to celebrate.


Wishing all of the moms and moms-to-be a belated, but very Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Mommy's Here!!

I cannot wait for 10:55am to arrive! That's when my mom's plane is landing in Linz! I'm so excited that she's finally going to be here. We have been counting down the days since April 30th! I have lots of fun things planned for her visit. We will be going to Jesolo and Venice, Italy for a few days next week. I have a day trip planned to the discovery museum in Vienna. I think Alexa will have a blast there and after the museum I'll be able to show Vienna to my mom. We might even venture into Germany for a day trip. This visit is going to be much different than her first European experience. She claims that it was lots of fun because she got to spend every minute with Alexa, but this time she's going to see some of Europe while she's here and not just the inside of my apartment and the grocery store down the street!!

Momma's Europe vacation begins NOW!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Little Love

We have been doing lots of arts and crafts projects lately. Something we did this morning, inspired by...you guessed it, Pinterest, was a LOVE painting. The original tutorial uses finger paints, but I used acrylic paints. I bought a large rectangle painting canvas for this project. Depending on how large you want your LOVE painting, is how large of a canvas you should purchase. I also bought a small set of acrylic paints and painters tape. Normally, I do not use acrylic paints with Alexa, but for this project I wanted the paint to stay on the canvas and not dry up and peel off after a few weeks (or days!). We also used our foam paintbrushes from our art kit.

I stripped Alexa down to just a onesie. In hindsight, she should have been in just a diaper. Oh well, now we have an art onesie. Using the painters tape, I wrote the word LOVE on the canvas.


Then, I opened four different blue and green colored acrylic paints and spread them across the canvas in no particular pattern. I gave Alexa a foam brush and let her get to it.


She had more fun using her fingers on the canvas, which was fine, and then painting her leg and the kitchen floor. I helped her out with the foam brush and we covered the entire canvas in paint.


After letting it dry for a little while, I pulled the painters tape off.


TADA!

I can't wait to find the perfect spot to hang it in the apartment.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pinspiration! Paper Roll Fun

I found this cool idea on, guess where? Yup, Pinterest!! It uses four things that you most likely have in your house: kitchen towel rolls or toilet paper rolls, tape, a bowl and cotton balls or pompons. I'm not kidding, this four ingredient recipe for fun took all of two minutes to assemble and Alexa has played with it for 5-10 minutes at a time, several times a day for the last few days. I'm loving it!

Find a wall or window that is just below chin level for your child. Tape the paper roll to the door or window. Put 5-6 small pompons or cotton balls in a bowl below the paper roll. Show your child how to drop the pompons, one by one, into the tube and watch them fall into the bowl. This insanely simple idea is great for independent play, helps improve fine motor skills and is fun for young toddlers.




Unfortunately, the pictures that I took came out very dark because of how bright it was outside. Also, you can see how filthy my windows are, but I have an excuse for that too....Hello, one year old in the house! Hopefully, you'll try this activity with your little one and they'll enjoy it as much as Alexa has.

The idea originally came from this blog post from Teaching Mama where she gives you twenty ideas on how to keep a toddler busy. There are several activities from this post that I have already done with Alexa, but a lot of new ideas that we will be trying out in the future!

Happy Playing!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Return to Mojo Mountain

Towards the end of last year I was full of motivation in regards to exercising, eating well and making my way towards a healthier version of myself. Then I went on vacation for six weeks, it snowed and my mojo got stuck in frozen winterland. Well, I have been slowly, painstakingly slowly trying to start the search for my mojo. Once the weather turned nice, I went out for a run, but I wasn't really into it, so I haven't been out for a run since. Then Mommy and Me Fitness class ended and I haven't looked into starting up another one. I just have been a couch slug. My laziness is contagious and it is bad, bad news.

Well, 2-3 weeks ago my husband found a parcours obstacle course by one of the running trails near us. He got all amped up about it (I was not amped. Thinking about doing the obstacle course made me tired.) and told a friend of mine about it. Since she's a super fitness freak she immediately got all amped up about it too. Do you see where this is going? Well, she has the ability to convince (con) people into doing all kinds of things that she wants them to do. We've now done the obstacle course these last two Sundays in a row. The first week I called a trial week. I wanted to see what it was all about. I didn't even know if I could do the obstacles! I successfully managed to finish all 20 stations both weeks now. After the first Sunday, I was sore for the entire week. This last Sunday was great! I actually had a good time doing it and I'm looking forward to doing it again next Sunday.

Since I like to dive right into things, I've even signed up (been conned by said friend into signing up) for the Hypo Eisenmann Linz in July, which is like a Tough Mudder Junior. It's a 6k with an obstacle course. It looks pretty cool. I'm not hardcore or anything, I'm just doing it for fun. I'm hoping that training for the Eisenmann will help me find my motivation and help get me back on track with getting back into shape and being healthier.

I've got to start somewhere...might as well be here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

These Migraines are Killing Me

I think my body might finally be starting to return to normal. My periods (sorry) are kind of on track again, the nursing sessions are winding down and of course my migraines are back. I haven't had a real killer migraine in almost two years, since the pregnancy stick turned positive. Throughout my pregnancy I had two, maybe three migraines and a nap in a dark room with a pillow over my eyes cured them.

I've had a migraine for three days now. Three days waking up feeling fine then lifting my head off the pillow to the immediate throbbing of my head. I've tried all the non-medicine tricks I know: cold cloths, temple massage, dark room, pillow over the eyes, napping, coffee, caffeine, chocolate...nothing is working.

So, I turned to medicine. I'm still nursing at least once a day, sometimes twice, so I'm very limited in what I can take. Ibuprofen is a joke. I took 1600mg of Ibuprofen over the course of 4-6 hours on Tuesday and it was like eating TicTacs. It didn't touch the headache at all. I'm at all loss of what to try next. It looks like I'll be going back to the Neurologist soon...I was hoping to avoid him for the rest of my life.

Do you suffer from migraines? What non-prescription/non-medicine treatments have worked for you?