Ball Pit Fun

For a few days there, we were getting out every day to run around in the newly green grass, but yesterday was drizzly and cold, and today is sunny and colder. So instead of going to the playground, going for a walk, or kicking a ball in the front yard, we'll be heading back up to our attic playroom to work out all of our afternoon energy. 

One of my favorite toys in the playroom is our ball pit. Relatively safe for my physically active and curious boy, colorful, and versatile! What's not to love? Our ball pit is a hodge podge of different items from different places and came together over time. First, I bought some balls second hand (which is how we get most of Will's toys) from someone at work. (The balls came with a purple and pink princessy blow-up contraption that I ended up stabbing with scissors after unsuccessfully trying to inflate multiple times.) Then, my sister gave Will the blue blow-up pool for Christmas after I tried to requisition her baby pool. And just a few weeks ago, I actually invested in 100 more brand-new balls to fill up the "pit" a bit more. Will has loved to climb in and out and move all the balls around ever since he was able to crawl over to the pool, and as he has grown, we have developed some (only slightly) more organized games.

IN and OUT
Get yourself in and out, put the balls in and out, take the car/bear/block in and out. This will probably just happen when you set your child anywhere near the ball pit and with a little encouragement can become a fun game and useful in many situations like cleaning up and following directions.

Matching--Pick up a yellow ball and ask your child to pick up a yellow ball. If they pick up a ball, that's great! If they pick up a yellow ball, that's even more impressive. If it's any other color, choose another yellow ball to match yours or choose the color that they have to match them. Usually, we then hit the balls together and someone usually tries to eat one.
Sorting--Take/throw all of one color ball out of the pool or into a bucket or basket. Try the same with two colors and two buckets/baskets. And so on...

Take an object that makes noise, place it in the balls, and turn it on. Encourage your child to find it. Start easy with younger children by leaving part of the object visible and make it harder by submerging the object or hiding objects that don't make noise as your child develops object permanence and gets better and better at seeking. Eventually, you might be able to ask them to hide objects for you or other children to find. (BE CAREFUL: Will loves to throw himself into the pit, so we make sure to remove all hard objects after each play session.) 

With some pillows, couch cushions, or fold-up tunnels, make your ball pit part of an obstacle course to chase your child through (which is what Will loves) or have them follow you through.

Encourage your child to push the balls around with his or her arms and kick his or her feet through the balls. Will loves to do this in a sitting position, but you could also try on their bellies or backs. If your child is really advanced, teach them the different strokes!

That's it! Do you have any other ideas for ball pit games or activities? I'd love to hear them because I know in a few short months, we'll be escaping from the heat to play in the attic.

An Afternoon

There was no napping, but one baby was fed, two diapers were changed, and four bodies went for a walk. If kitties or cats were mentioned, Will had us covered with the "mow"s, and if puppies or dogs were mentioned (or Lola was in sight), Piper represented with the "woof woof"s. She also alerted us to any (and every) ball in the area while Will experimented with alternative pacifiers.
Oh, and coloring. There was lots of coloring... mostly by me. There were also many attempts at sharing. Would you like this pink crayon? Would you like this frog (which can also double as a pacifier)? But no actual sharing. Maybe next time. I kind of can't wait until next time.

Also, there was a little bit of crying. Totally justified crying. Crying to let it be known that putting your finger inside Will's mouth to get out the tip of the blue crayon is not appropriate.

Not the Original Plan

Yesterday between naps (and eating and cleaning), we got in a walk around the neighborhood for Lola and a trip to the playground for Will. Our new favorite playground is in the middle of all the soccer fields in our park and has plenty of gumballs (with all the spiky things removed somehow) for Will to collect and carry around as he climbs up slides and through tubes. Over the spring and summer, I can just imagine Will learning to climb the rock wall and go down the slides on his own. Maybe with much prompting, he will eventually sit back in the swing. Who knows? 
In August, as planned, I will be going back to work teaching English to high school freshman, and I am looking forward to being back in the classroom. So starting in August, I probably won't have time to get in both a walk and a trip to the park on every nice day, but I will have time for at least one because I am going to work part-time! Through prayer, Jason and I realized that me working part-time would be best for both our family and my students but didn't know if it was even an option. So months and months ago, I put in a request, and a few weeks ago, I found out that I was approved for teaching two classes (as opposed to five + an advisory) a semester. 
I will still get to spend most of the day with William, and he will get to spend his afternoons with Maggie and Piper, which I think will actually be much better for his development than spending the afternoons with me. I really can't imagine a more perfect situation. We keep putting our faith and trust in God's plan for our lives and tearing ourselves away from our own plans. And every time, His plan is SO much better. I am so thankful to God for his plans for my life and all of the amazing people involved, for my family, for my bosses, for my students, and most of all for William and Jason. Also, William makes it a point to take a moment to say hi to all walkers and runners who come by on the path... but if they happen to have a puppy dog with them, he will stop whatever he is doing and run full speed, shrieking the entire time. So if you are in the area, please plan your walks accordingly. The shreiks are pretty freakin cute.

A Perfect Way to Start the Week // Zuke's Dog Treats Giveaway

We adopted Lola old from our local rescue organization, Partners for Pets. She was already three months old, but we were still amazed that it only took a day to crate train her with only one real accident in the house. A few months later, we signed up for obedience classes, and she learned sit, down, off, and heal (kind of), but she has never fully grasped the concept of "come." When it's really cold or hot outside or time for her to eat, she happily comes when I call her, but any other time, she ignores me or takes her time. Shortly after bringing Will home last year, I realized that I needed Lola not only to "come" but also "leave" much more often, so we slowly started trying to teach her those commands. Now, she knows that when we say "out," she needs to leave the room, and I've learned that all I need to do to get her to come is shout, "Do you want a treat"?

A few weeks ago, Zuke's sent us their new line of Hip Action treats. The great thing about all of Zuke's products is that they are all natural and healthy for your pup (or kitty), so I don't feel bad giving Lola a treat every single time she comes inside the house. Lola loves all three flavors of the Hip Action treats, and I really appreciate that even though they are moist and chewy, they don't have that funky dog treat smell.

If you want to try out Zuke's, you can order them online or find them in this area at Petsmart and local pet boutiques, OR you can enter to win some treats! Just visit Zuke's and choose a line of treats that you'd like to try out with your pup or kitty and enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, don't you think Lola looks like the pup on the packaging?

April Showers

Yesterday, like almost everyone in the St. Louis area, we were woken up by tornado sirens. For the rest of the day and late into the night one front after another rolled through with thunder and lightning and hail. But late in the afternoon, on our way home from Will's 12 month check-up, the rain stopped for about an hour and the earth started steaming. A sight to behold... and just a prelude to what is about to spring forth.

Also, can you spy the geese?
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