Monday, February 20, 2012

Ten for Tuesday: 10 Toddler Games that Cost Nothing (Free Play!) #totplay

Here's ten simple and free "activities/games" that toddlers love. 

1. Tag (Wild Thing, 2, loves it when I say "I'm gonna get you" and chase him around the house. Now that we have the baby, I often carry the baby with me and we both chase Wild Thing).

2. Hide and Seek -- Wild Thing's favorite way to do this is for him to hide behind the curtain and for me to say "Where's Wild Thing?" and act completely shocked when he jumps out from behind the curtain.

3. Tickle Contest -- self-explanatory. I tickle him. He tickles me. We both laugh our heads off.

4. Make the Bed -- My mom did this to me when I was a kid, and I loved it!! She would make the bed on top of me and then push, gently, on me and complain about not being able to get the "lumps" out of the bed. (This also works with a blanket on the couch).

5. I Spy -- we all know this one. Now that Wild Thing is over 2 and his language is developing, this game has become more and more interesting and fun for him. (We do a simplified version where I say what I see and he points to it, so I actually say the name of the object instead of describing it).

6. Airplane -- There are several variations, but lift up your child and let them fly (bench press style works. Tummy on the feet is also popular. This activity is also a great workout for mom.)







The two blurry photos are ones Wild Thing took with his Fisher-Price cam 
so you can see airplane from his point of view.

7. Choo-Choo or Horsey -- Wild Thing sits on my lap or legs and I bounce him up and down as he makes horse sounds or I move him side to side as he makes choo choo sounds. (Often the baby is also on my lap. Fun for everyone).

8. Choo-Choo #2 -- Lately Wild Thing likes to sit in an empty box and be pushed around like a choo-choo. I'm trying to get him to push his stuffed animals around when I get tired, but haven't succeeded yet.

9. Dance Party -- put on some tunes and dance with your child. Don't think about it just move, move, move.

10. Sing -- Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is a favorite. The Winnie-the-Pooh song is also a favorite, as is a body part song I made up when Wild Thing was 3 months old. He still loves it. Lately, he also loves making up his own songs and having me ask him to sing to the baby.

I think it's important to remember that it doesn't taken money or toys to engage our children (and to help them grow, develop and learn). It's also important for adults to remember that we don't need all of our gadgets all the time either. What I like best about these 10 activities is not that they cost nothing, but that they require me to log off and get engaged with my little guy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On Love: Mindful Parenting - Learning to Love Ourselves as we Love Our Children

It doesn't have to be Feb. 14 for me to write a post about love. This post is actually about Feb. 13. And is posting on Feb. 16.

On Feb. 13, I was in a funk. It was dreary and gloomy (particularly for LA), and I was in the dumps. Down and distracted.

However, because the next day was Valentine's Day, I pulled out my favorite book on the subject of love, which is True Love by the oft-referenced here Thich Nhat Hanh.

Skimming back through this treasure-filled book, one section stuck out to me. He writes:

"When the mother hears her baby crying, she puts down whatever she has in her hands, she goes into its room, and takes the baby in her arms...The mother does not know yet what is the matter...but the fact that she has it in her arms already gives her child some relief."

This is something I do often for my own children, but TNH uses this example as an analogy of something we must do for ourselves (out of love for ourselves and for those closest to us).

He speaks about treating one's negative feelings in this way. Instead of burying them or pushing them aside, we should pick up our jealousy, our anger, our resentment and hold it, recognize it. This allows us to release it.

It may sound odd -- that focusing on your negative emotion lets you get rid of it, but it works. It also forces us to recognize it. Upon reflection, I realized that I was not in a funk at all. I was jealous. The why and what doesn't really matter. What matters was the action, the awareness.

I took the analogy to heart. I held my jealousy. Then I was able to transform it and release it. I freed myself of it. I began to see the positive elements of the reality that was causing me to feel jealous. Once that happened, my jealousy became gratitude - whoa, what a transformation.

It was love that caused the transformation -- treating myself with love, just as I would my children. This not always easy, but it is always necessary.

So - give yourself some love (jealousy and all!!)

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Still Running - Rethinking Peace and Remembering that Peace if Every Step

Sometimes it's easy to get all tangled up and strangled by the details, by false parameters, by unnecessary assumptions.

When my "Run for Peace" was complete, the blog began to stagnate. Sporadic blogs cropped up here and there, but they became more separated and less full of heart.

"How can I write when I am no longer engaged in working for peace?" I thought.

I had forgotten what it actually meant to be "running for peace." I now realize so clearly that I am still learning a great deal about peace. I am a blessed parent of two little boys (one who is just over 2 years, the other who is just over 6 months) -- talk about daily opportunities to foster peace (and practice patience - a close cousin of peace).

Diminishing my own ability to be able to write about the good long road because my journey down it had changed was erroneous -- and directly counter to my own belief about peace. Being a peacemaker is not limited to the men or women in power who are sitting at an important diplomatic meeting (working for a non-profit directly involved in bringing groups in conflict together). Each of us has the ability everyday to be a peacemaker -- to foster love and goodness in the world or to foster the opposite.

As Thich Nhat Hanh writes (In Peace is Every Step):

"We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child.
We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”
As I parent, I need this reminder for myself and for my family. I hope to raise two caring, aware and loving boys who are present to the world they live in. They are actually my daily reminder. No one is more alive to the present moment than an active two year-old playing with his beloved "choo-choos." May we all feel that present, that awake and that alive to our worlds.
I am glad to be back and still saying "I run for peace!!" Now, I'm just running after a two year-old rather than running the trails.
(Special thanks to letslassothemoon.com, the blog reminded me of TNH's words, which thus led me back to the blog).