Monday, September 16, 2013

Halloween Book for Toddlers

Halloween shopping

This will be Camilla's third Halloween. The first one - she was 2 days old. The second one she doesn't remember at all. Probably it was a huge blur of colors and lights for her. And now she is all ready to jump into the fun.

We went to a little Halloween shopping with her and I hadn't expected that we would have THAT much fun, both of us. I picked medium-sized, toy-looking decorations to show her. She loved Elmo with a pumpkin as his belly. We watched a not so scary skeleton dancing. Camilla got a little bit scared and fascinated by a black raven who moved his head and wings. She loves owls; and that one in the store had its eyes lit up.

I realized that it could be a good idea to prepare her for the holiday so that she would notice and understand more and hopefully wouldn't be scared.

Halloween Book of Halloween symbols.

The idea of the book came from one of our favorites. "Brown Bear" by Bill Martin Jr. I've seen several different versions of playing with this book. They are all awesome!!!<3

That was a huge hit with Camilla - making our own Halloween Book. I didn't have time to go too fancy with it (we are in the middle of the soccer season). So I used a small 4 by 6 photo book.

The first page is a picture of last year's Pink Poodle, her favorite since she just realized that SHE is a doggy here. We also used it to reinforce the knowledge of color pink. We did one page a day. That day we finger painted with pink paint and called it "Pink doggy" - LOL.

What do you see?
I see flying bats
looking at me.

Flying bats coloring pages were painted with different brushes and fingers. I cut them out after painting. They are not black since I let her to choose colors. We discussed that bats are not birds, they have wings and fly at night, hence, the moon and stars. We counted two bats and one Camilla.

Flying Bats,
Flying Bats,
What do you see?
We see pumpkins
looking at us.

On day three we made fingerprints on pumpkins. I offered yellow paint first. Then, we added a little red to yellow and observed the orange paint forming. She was not interested in paint at that point. So we used her favorite - Do-A-Dot for orange. She actually had no idea what the pumpkins are. So much for playing with pumpkins for so long a year ago.

What do you see?
We see a black spider
looking at us.

The spider is colored with crayons. Camilla looooves crayons so much that she is craving to eat them even if you only mention them to her. That's why we don't use them much.

I introduced her first letter: S is for spider - just to see if she would be interested. She didn't appear to be interested or paying attention at all. But remembered it several days after that!

Black Spider,
Black Spider,
What do you see?
I see a black cat
looking at me.

The black cat is all about learning shapes and body parts. It also was the first time we used the glue. We talked about "sticky" and had fun sticking the circles to the fingers - she loved that. I made 2 sets of shapes. The first page is the shapes glued by Camilla with my assistance. The second page - she assembled the cat, and I glued the pieces in place.

Black Cat,
Black Cat,
What do you see?
I see a yellow bee
looking at me.

The last page is a picture of Camilla in her new Halloween outfit. She will be a bee.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Baby Weight. Calorease.

Baby Weight

 shouldn't be hard to loose. I mean, it's just recent something extra, right? Camilla will be 2 years old soon; and I still need to loose the same 50+ lbs, finally.

Here is my dirty secret: I was never on a diet before. I was the lucky one to eat everything I want and remain skinny. I actually lost some weight after my first child was born. Here is an old picture of me from the time of my baby boy being a baby.

These 50 lbs. is not for returning to the look on this picture. It's only for getting back at least a decent size of the cloths. So sad.

I did some research and asked around. Staying on a diet is very difficult and stressful. It is not only a change in the lifestyle, it interferes with all aspects of the family life. And the worse yet is that as soon as you are off the diet, you can easily gain all the lost pounds back. I've decided I wouldn't be able to concentrate on all of these for the usual reasons:
  • there is no time (even if I stay at home, this toddler and other family issues, always keep me very busy - no time for myself is a correct description, LOL)
  • I am not sure that I would have enough will power to stay on a strict diet and stay happy
  • I am still breastfeeding, which means I cannot use any stimulants or medications that might be dangerous, or are not research well for use while breastfeeding. 
Sick Camilla kept me busy the whole day yesterday. Nothing serious, she is completely normal today. I am not sure what it was...

Proteins to loose weight

For the reasons stated above, I've decided to make lots of smaller changes and see where it'll take me. This way I actually will stick to this plan, and it might help me not to gain weight in the future (which is a key!).

Proteins are an important part. They keep you from feeling hungry, keep the blood sugar levels more constant throughout the day, and give you good energy. I am not going vegan. I need my proteins from meat, they are natural, good proteins :) I will switch to snacking tiny portions every 2-3 hours which will give me 5-6 meals a day. Each of this meals have to have some protein in it. The difficult part for me is to eat something for the early breakfast. And I and Camilla will eat from the same size of the plates, LOL.

Carbohydrates to loose weight

Carbs are the hardest part. I need my sugary drinks - they are the fastest to make me happy and running again. Ideally, the only sugar should come from fruits and vegetables. I've noticed several tips that I really liked:
  • Drink vegetable broth, especially before the main meal: it'll make you less hungry in its own way.
  • Keep a jar of water with lemon or orange wedges in refrigerator.
  • Have a bottle of water close by at all times to sip your daily norm. It's important to stay well hydrated, and keeps you from feeling hungry.
  • Put some cinnamon into your cup of coffee instead of sugar
  • Guilt free snack: yummy! Hail Marry Macaroons: they are tiny, healthy, and expensive, hmmm...
  • Does anybody have tips? I'd be very interested to read your comments!

Fats to loose weight

  • We do need some of good fats. We need our good cholesterol. And some vitamins are absorbed by the body only in the presence of fats. This is about it: we don't need the rest of those fats. I thought about it. If I am going to fight for a low carb diet, I don't want to add a low fat diet on top of it. I mean, I do try to decrease the amount of fats in the diet, but that's only half of the solution.

The other half is fiber. When you consume fat TOGETHER with fiber, the fiber coats the droplets of fat and prevents that fat to be absorbed by the body. To make a difference for loosing weight, I would need to eat A LOT of fiber. Which is fine with me, but apparently is not enough to loose any weight.

That's how I fell in love with Calorease


According to SFI Natural Medicines USA Inc., Calorease is stimulant free and heart healthy. It is naturally sourced and clinically researched. Basically, it is fiber derived from corn, which is called FBCx. The natural fiber from our diet binds to fat at 1:1 ratio. What makes Calorease special is it binds and eliminates up to 9 times its weight in fat.

Math behind Calorease. It reduces up to 500 calories a day from the fat in foods. Each serving can eliminate 18 grams of fat. Recommended 3 doses a day with main meals eliminates 54 grams of fat a day. Most of us consume 100 grams of fat a day. So with recommended doses, you may loose half of the fat if you are on a regular fat diet. Which is good because we still need some of our fat. It all adds up to "a whole pant or dress size".

There are many different types and brands of supplement that contain fiber in them. What makes Calorease special is its FBX complex is natural and SOLUBLE. Soluble is important! According to Mayo Clinic, soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium. In people with diabetes, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels.

 The interesting thing to notice: any fiber, even that from vegetables in the diet, is a laxative. That means if consumed in large amounts, it can cause bloating and/ or "upset". "Upset" is a term I saw many times when reading about fiber supplements in different sources. LOL. It actually is constipation or diarrhea. Fiber is all about how fast the stuff moves through the intestines. If it moves too fast, that can cause diarrhea. If it causes obstruction, that's the opposite (sorry for the details).

How much is too much is different for different people. And here is my funny story. The first day I started on the recommended doses with main meals. LOL. To say it tenderly, I had some cleansing when I didn't intend to. No major discomfort. And I lost 2 lbs that day.

Here is a recommendation from Mayo Clinic, "High-fiber foods are good for your health. But adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Also, drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky."

They offer a 50% discount. $14.99 for a 90-tablet pack. Visit and enter code 4MOMS. You can also like Calorease on Facebook to stay updated on offers and promotions.

Disclaimer. I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC. or the manufacturer of the product.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lacing Cards for Toddlers

Lacing for Toddlers

This was a great idea for us! Lacing helps to develop fine motor skills, color recognition, attention and following simple directions, new vocabulary, creativity, sense of accomplishment because the final result is nice; and Camilla was engaged in meaningful activities for a long time (short periods over several days). I love it!

Painting and making a card, 22 months old

I printed out coloring pages for painting. First we used finger paints for a couple of them. I put a little of each color, one color at a time, onto the different areas of the picture, and she had to spread it out. This experience changed for her: she doesn't like that her fingers are "dirty" and that destructs her from the painting.

She looked so cute when she rubbed her little fingers with some paint on them - her way of telling me, "Mom, come on, I am ready for the painting tools. And that's when we started having real fun with painting. We tried out brushes of different sizes, sponges, cotton balls, and Q-tips. Well, it wasn't as much for painting as just for introducing to different painting technics. I love having new experiences with her. It feels refreshing and exciting. Thank you, Camilla.

I guess, she likes the sponges so far. They are also the fastest to cover large areas of paper with color. For the dolphin, we tried to dab the sponge to make spots, waited for a minute for the paint to dry, and then painted over with the next color. That made an interesting effect that is easily accomplished by the little hands.

Laminating at home

was awesome! I used my brand new, beloved laminator for the first time.

Yes, I've just splurged to buy a laminator. I thought it can be used in so many ways with our activities and crafts: preserving the crafts, making easy props for the learning activities (we are into learning to match and 2-piece puzzles now), DIY dry-erase boards, and who know what else :)

Yes, I fell in love with it. It was very affordable. It is very easy to use. The cards looked great. Just in time for a grandparents' day.

Of course, Camilla painted all over the paper. The paint was everywhere over the edges of the picture. After the paint dried, I cut out the actual picture and laminated it. Then I cut out the picture again leaving the margins of clear plastic.

Making lacing cards

The only thing left to do is to cut wholes with the puncher. I bought 1/8 in ribbon (depending on the size of the wholes, the ribbon can be wider). The "needle" is made from the short piece of chenille stem.  I rapped the ribbon around the end of the stem, and bend the stem to hold my ribbon in place. Then I tied the other side of the ribbon to the whole in the card. Ready for fun!

I liked our awesome new lacing cards so much that I made a party for our toddler friends out of this idea. It was a huge success, yay! I might write about it next time.

I am posting the links for the laminator and laminating pouches I bought just in case somebody would be interested. If you'd decide to buy them, I would greatly appreciate you using my links to buy them. This way I'd actually receive a little chunk of money from Amazon (which we'd love to use to organize our next play date, He-he!)