Coming Out of Vacation Mode…

We have been back from our AWESOME trip to Tampa, FL for an entire week now, and yet I still feel like I’m in vacation mode. It’s hard adjusting back to life of chores, bills, and daily life when you’ve been floating around in vacation mode. It’s even more difficult to come back to reality since we’ve made a 2-year plan to officially move there… More on that decision to come in a later post.

It’s a dreary, cloudy, cold day in the Midwest today, and I’m missing the Florida sunshine and salty air coming off of the Gulf of Mexico. Visit our family vacation one more time with me through some photos we took along the way… And maybe next week I will be back to posting normal stuff. đŸ˜‰

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Save It for a Rainy Day

This post contains so many things that I enjoy. I enjoy a cool, rainy day.

I enjoy seizing the moment.

And I enjoy creating new experiences for my children.

Tuesday morning, it was rainy. It was an early morning rain that flooded our senses in all of the best ways: the distant rumble of thunder, the earthy aroma of fresh-falling rain onto dry fields, and a calm, cool wind touching our skin. Even though today it is back to being warm and sunny, it was the kind of rain that came as a reminder that summer is turning around the bend, and fall is nipping at its tail.

After I took my oldest son to school, my little one and I returned home, with a whole day ahead of us and no major plans. I decided to take the opportunity to let him really experience the rain. We sat outside and dipped our bare toes in puddles forming on the porch floor. We listened to the wind against the trees, and we watched the branches sway back and forth. We listened to the rain pouring on the grass below and on the roof above. I mimicked the sounds. My little one “oohed” and “ahhed” (literally). I sang to him softly some songs about rain: “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” and “Rain, Rain, Go Away.”

When he started to get sleepy, we came back inside, and I laid him down for his morning nap. While he napped, I threw in a load of laundry, and then I began creating a couple of rainy day sensory activities for the afternoon.

I made a “thunder drum” out of an empty formula can, some rocks, a photo of dark clouds from a National Geographic magazine, tape, and a pair of scissors. This is so simple to make and there are a variety of ways that you can play with it. My son is very much into reaching for and “beating” on things that he can reach, so we turned it right side up for him to beat like a drum. I shook it slowly back and forth to make a “thunderous” sound. During tummy time, I put it on its side in front of him, and because it was weighted by the rocks, it didn’t roll away from him when he reached for it. If you have a crawler, you can make it without the rocks and it will roll away from him, so that he can chase after it. If you have a toddler, you can put in less rocks and use it as a musical “thunder” shaker. I love projects that can be so versatile, don’t you? đŸ™‚

How to make a thunder drum:
1) Wash, rinse, and dry an empty formula can and lid.

2) Put rocks inside it (or not) and seal the lid shut. There is a bit of a sharp edge on the inside of these cans, so even if you aren’t using rocks (careful, because they are a choking hazard for the little ones!), it’s still a good idea to super-glue the lid shut.

3) Place tape around the outside of the can and on the lid, and cut your rainy picture to fit the can and lid (you can draw a rainy scene on paper if you don’t have a magazine photo available. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, let them make the picture!).

4) If you want to keep the little ones from ripping the picture off of the can, you can use contact paper or clear packing tape over the pictures. This isn’t baby-proof, because kiddos are clever and will still get the pictures off. However, the picture will last a bit longer if you do this step.

Another sensory activity that I created for my little one on our rainy day was to put some water in a plastic bowl (or a water table for older babies or toddlers) and add a couple drops of blue food coloring. I only needed two drops for our little bit of water, and it didn’t stain our hands or clothing, but make sure you test that first! Water + babies usually = a splash-fest and you never know where that water is going to land! The food coloring made it a beautiful blue color, and I added a blue sponge and a blue cup for different textures for him to explore. He loved it!

We read a book with beautiful rainy illustrations, and although the story itself wasn’t about the rain, I pointed to and talked about the rainy elements of the illustrations. “Oh, look! It’s raining on the Mama and Baby Bear.” “What are they wearing in the rain?” “Are they wearing raincoats to stay dry?” “Look at that blue umbrella!”

Embracing the rain made our day so enjoyable. What do you like to do on a rainy day?

**I’m linking this post up with the weekly Kid’s Co-Op again. I always find some really fun ideas here, so if you have children (infant to school-age) give it a look!**