Category: Series

Regular series topics on the blog

DIY Light Table

I’m famous for seeing something on Pinterest, thinking it looks easy and then bombing it royally. And heaven forbid I want to take a Pinterest idea and “tweek” it a little! I’m surprised my husband gives any of my Pinterest inspired ideas a second thought, much less a chance. But sometimes, just sometimes, they work!

For Christmas I’ve wanted Pip to have a light table. I’ve read so many great blog posts about them, seen so many fun activities and he LOVES the one at the Lakeshore store. But the price tag on many of them was slightly astronomical. So I hit up Pinterest to see what I could find.

There are a ton of “tubs with lights” adaptations, but I know I wanted something more. With hosting co-op, kid #2 on the way and plenty of play dates hosted here… it needed to do the job well and stand up to the test of time (also known as “toddlers”).

That is when I came upon THIS tutorial. Now, any excuse to drive to IKEA is always welcomed. And over half the supplies are located there. So, over a few months, I purchased pieces to this project. And, on Christmas Eve, Oliver gave it a go. And it was a success! Pip LOVES it!

DIY Light Table | oliverandtara.com
Pip’s new light table!

Disclaimer: We made ONE change. We used this stuff instead of the spray paint frost. Spray paint already acts a bit different at altitude sometimes and the fact that it was below freezing… it just wasn’t feeling like it would be successful.

On to the next Pinterest inspired idea!! [kidding hunny… kinda…]

-Tara

Gaming: Koala Capers

My mom stumbled upon this game on Zulily a few months ago. She thought it looked perfect for Pip. Sure enough! He loves it!

Caption reads:

A lot of people ask how I adapt and play games with Pip (who turns three in January). This is a sneak peak of a game we just opened today called “Koala Capers”. The game called for rolling two dice, a pattern one and an article of clothing one. There is a “lose your cards” option on the clothing die – a pair of underwear. *giggle* Because Pip knows the names of articles of clothing, doesn’t understand “losing” cards, and isn’t quite to following two step descriptor directions yet… We just used the pattern die! We take turns rolling the die and finding a Koala that has our pattern on any article of clothing. He’s getting really good at naming the pattern types (zip zag, polka dots, etc) and finding them amongst all the cards set out before him! We’ve played it twice already and he’s right now asking to play it again!

We typically play this game up to 3 mornings a week. We all get ready together in the morning (mommy, daddy and Pip), so we keep this game in the bedroom to play when waiting for a turn in the bathroom or for everyone to be finished!

A lot of people ask how I adapt and play games with Pip (who turns three in January). This is a sneak peak of a game we just opened today called "Koala Capers". The game called for rolling two dice, a pattern one and an article of clothing one. There is a "lose your cards" option on the clothing die – a pair of underwear. *giggle* Because Pip knows the names of articles of clothing, doesn't understand "losing" cards, and isn't quite to following two step descriptor directions yet… We just used the pattern die! We take turns rolling the die and finding a Koala that has our pattern on any article of clothing. He's getting really good at naming the pattern types (zip zag, polka dots, etc) and finding them amongst all the cards set out before him! We've played it twice already and he's right now asking to play it again! #homeschool #slpmom

A video posted by Tara Nicole (@speechykeenslp) on

-Tara

Link to the game on Amazon

Gaming: Seek-A-Boo

My mom is great at finding some fun games for Pip! Because he is still just two, I adapt them a lot so he can be successful. Then I up the difficulty as he is able! This game has a bunch of categories (differentiated by the border color). The game calls for the circles to be face down and for kids to find the ones that match a card. For Pip, I leave them face up. As he has gotten REALLY good at this game, I will often do a few categories together now, so he has a bigger group to search through.

For some of my older work clients I not only put them face down, I also don’t tell them what is on my card. Depending on their goals I may describe it, act it out, etc. So this game can really age up, which is always wonderful!

Dinner done, TV off, games have come out! #Thanksgiving

A photo posted by Tara Nicole (@speechykeenslp) on

Hope you love this game as much as we do!

-Tara

Link to the game on Amazon

Co-Op Fun: Train vs. Subway

Another Monday, another fun day at co-op! Today we talked about trains and subways. We discussed what was same and different between them and watched short YouTube videos about each! We had fun using a poster mailing tube as our subway tube to send subway trains through, then placing tracks across the top of the tube for the steam engine train! We talked about above ground, under ground, through.. So many fun concepts!

 

-Tara

Co-op Fun: Fall Books!

I’m going to go ahead and say it. I do NOT like how my library organizes the children’s book section. I get that seeing the covers can work well for the littles. But as an SLP, homeschool mom and co-op host… it’s a nightmare! So, I cheat. I go on and request all the books I need for each unit (sometimes using my card, my husbands card and even Pip’s to get enough!). Therefore they are all waiting on a pretty little shelf for me when we show up at the library each week! #winning

But seriously, we get a LOT of books…

Some our favorites from this batch have been We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt

https://www.instagram.com/p/8yzwqwwJYU

Fall Mixed Up
(better for older kids!)

Secrets of the Apple Tree
(if you haven’t seen this flashlight series by Usborne, you’re missing out! If you decide to buy any books by Usborne, please consider buying it through our fundraiser – your purchase gives books to our school in Rwanda!)

and Tap the Magic Tree
(we loved this one so much we bought it!)

What are some of your favorite books?

-Tara

Activities: Pull String Toy

Pull String Toy: A DIY activity for infants and toddlers! Great for cause and effect as well as fine motor! | find it at http://www.Oliverandtara.com

Continuing with activities I’ve created for Pip, here is how I made our fun Pull String Toy. I found this idea on Pinterest, and it was quick and easy to recreate at home! This toy is great for cause and effect,  pincher grasp,  pulling, using two hands separately (one to hold the container, one to pull)… I started using this toy when he was around 9 months old and we still pull it out to play!

Materials:
Single hole punch
3/4” ribbons of different materials
Thin,  flexible, plastic container (found at the dollar store!)

How To:

  1. Punch holes into the sides of the container. I did a triangle pattern like this: ◦.◦ I matched the pattern on opposite sides, and reverse the pattern for the opposing opposite sides: .◦.
  2. Feed the ribbons through the holes and into the opposite side’s holes. I criss- crossed some to give Pip a different “feel” when pulling.
    Pull String Toy: A DIY activity for infants and toddlers! Great for cause and effect as well as fine motor! | find it at http://www.Oliverandtara.com
  3. Tie off the ends of the ribbon with knots big enough to cause them to stop at the hole. I left a longer “tail” at the end of each knot to practice “pinching” when pulling.

Then just put the lid back on and you are set! I found I had to demonstrate how to play with this a few times for Pip to understand. But he loves watching the ribbons going back and forth!

❤ Tara

Activities: Clips!

With a Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology and many years of experience in the special education system, I’m quite keen on exposing Pip to a multitude of activities. I work hard to vary the modalities he is using in the activities I am providing. We love to do a lot of fine motor activities together, despite how anxious it makes others. Everyone is sure he will choke on the tools I give him! But trust me, I keep him supervised until I know he can be safe. And once he know how to be safe with them, he gains so much confidence with the activities!

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skill is the coordination of small muscle movements which occur in body parts such as the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes. – Wikipedia

What are some important movements?

There are so many! Pinching, threading, pulling, scribbles… there are so many different fine motor movements. If you google it you can find a variety of lists. Some will make you feel like you’ve done something right, others may make you feel like you’re failing your child. Try to find a middle ground *smile*

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A simple activity to help your toddler develop their fine motor skills! And you can buy the materials at the dollar store! | found on http://www.oliverandtara.com #moms #parenting #activities

This simple activity can provide fun and some fine motor exercise for your little one! We play this game everywhere now, as I can always have the supplies in my purse.

What You’ll Need:

  • Rubber coated metal clips (I get them at the dollar store!)

How to Play

  • Always start each “level” by barely attaching the clips to the edge of something. You aren’t trying to “stump” your toddler right out of the gate! First you want to establish that they know how to get the clip off at each level.
  • Begin with something hard and sturdy where the pulling motion is towards themselves or down (not up). The edge of a toy crate can work, or a counter/table. Show your toddler how much FUN it can be to pull them off! (Find that inner child!) The rubber coating should protect your items, as well as make it easier to slip off. Increase the difficulty along with your toddler’s progress. You can even try clipping them so that they would need to pull “up” once they have the hang of it!
  • Attach the clips to a stuffed toy or blanket. Show your toddler how to hold the item with one hand, and pull the clip off with the other! This is great for core strength, stability and lateral motion – along with that grasping motion!
  • Attach the clips to your toddler’s clothes! We have a lot of fun with this one! I’ll put a clip on the feet of his PJs, up the legs, in his stomach region and even on the arm of his shirt. He has to coordinate all of his limbs to reach the clip and then pull against it! Be sure your little one is somewhere “soft” when you start this one. They often pull so hard they topple themselves backwards! When Pip has to wait somewhere in his car seat or stroller I’ll pull out this activity for a few minutes of cheap entertainment!

More dollar store activities to come! Stay tuned!

❤ Tara

Tried & True: Braun Forehead Thermometer

voxbox-blogimage-popup2Shortly before we moved into our new house, a box arrived for me. Imagine my surprise when it was a Braun Forehead Thermometer to test out on the family! Although the product was provided for free to me, all the opinions below are my own.


Triedd and True: Braun Forehead Thermometer | oliverandtara.com

Previously we’ve used a medical grade forehead thermometer which required a PhD to operate. We’d recently resorted back to the underarm for temps, which upset Pip to NO end. You’d think we were torturing him! So, I was very excited to test this forehead thermometer out! Sadly, we got the opportunity to test it out too soon – as Pip  caught the flu over Christmas, spiking fevers of up to 104.

Pros:

  • Compact!
    It fits in the palm of my hand and is quite lightweight
  • Fairly Accurate
    Testing it against my underarm thermometer, I got pretty consistent results!
  • Easy!
    And in case you forget, the directions are ON the thermometer! No need to go looking for the booklet!
  • Backlit
    For those middle of the night temp checks – it not only is backlit, but the light corresponds to the temp (red for a fever, orange for too warm, green for ok!)
  • Quick!
    It only takes a few moments, which is good. Sick babies are irritable! Here is a short clip of me taking Pip’s temperature today:

Cons:

  • Beeps
    As it takes the temperature, it beeps. Although not extremely loud, it did disturb the baby when in a light sleep.
  • No Case
    I would have loved a labelled case for storing it in – Therefore I could find it at a glance while keeping it safe!

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons for us! We really love this one and it is easily our “go to” thermometer now – especially since Pip is a fan too!

– Tara

Note: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes

[the] Fam’s 5 Faves: Babywearing (in the heat!)

[The] Fam’s 5 Faves: Babywearing (in the heat) by tararoehl on Polyvore

A floppy hat is great for covering baby’s head, especially when they don’t want the hood up!

I love my Arctic Chill Towel! I wear it between baby and me. The key to keeping baby cool is to NOT let them get damp! This towel does the trick!

Those legs hanging out are ripe for burning! These leg covers have UV protection and are cooler than most leg garments!

Some good sunscreen is important on that precious baby skin! This stuff is greasy, but does the job!

Something cold to chew on is a great way to help baby regulate their temp. Hang this frozen toy from the loops on your carrier!
And here is a slightly ridiculous, haphazardly thrown together video of how I use my arctic chill/frogg togg towel to keep Liam cool while babywearing!

❤ Tara

Tried & True: Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)

Tried & True: Soft Structured Carriers | oliverandtara.com
We are big fans of Soft Structured Carriers in our house. It’s often our go-to carrier. Quick to buckle on, multiple position options, toss it in the wash when it gets grimy … everything a frazzled new mommy needs!
I’ve seen a lot of people asking about the differences between a Tula and an Ergo. So I wanted to give you a few factual comparisons between the two, then go into my own personal pros and cons of these two.
Here is a little visual of what each measurement in the table is actually measuring…
Measuring Points of an SSC | oliverandtara.com
Image source
L = length, W = width

[approximations]

Tula

Ergo

L: padded shoulder strap

19”

15.5”

W: padded shoulder strap

2.5”

2.75”

L: adjustable shoulder strap

~30”

12”

L: body

14.25”

14.25”

W: body

13 – 16.5”

15”

W: seat

13.25”

14”

L: padded waist

27.25”

29”

W: padded waist

3.25” – 4.5”

3.25” – 5.5”

L: adjustable waist

~ 30”

~ 28.5”

W: adjustable waist

2”

2”

 

Now that you can see the facts, here are my opinions!

Ergo Performance

Pros:
  • Tough – made of durable material, easily washes/wipes clean
  • Breathable!
  • Dark colored, so it doesn’t show a ton of dirt
  • Pocket for hood
  • Hood snaps on quite easily
  • Good sized zipper pocket for phone, keys, etc
  • Rolls up small
Cons:
  • Let’s just face it – it isn’t “cute”. But the other Ergo styles are beginning to come in cute patterns!
  • Not as wide as the Tula – narrower seat and body means baby will grow out of it much sooner!
  • Not great for really petite people – the waist strap doesn’t go small enough!

Tula

Pros:

  • Ohemwow – can we say totally ADORABLE patterns?!
  • Body stays wide overall (versus “wave” style body of Ergo)
  • See the difference in lengths of adjustable straps?! This gives you a ton of room to find your “sweet spot”
  • Hood detaches completely and can be stored away
  • Hood can be cinched tighter around baby’s face
  • Canvas material is pretty durable, but “softens up” to “super cuddly” status!
  • Rolls up well!
Cons:
  • You need to be gentle when washing – you don’t want to wear it out or damage it. And some of the lighter styles stain easily
  • It can get quite toasty inside of there – for you AND baby! The price of a bigger body panel. Canvas is NOT breathable
  • The pocket is too small – MAYBE can hold my phone. Or my credit cards/IDs. Doubt it could hold both.

Here is a comparison shot of Liam in both carriers. For reference, he is 8 1/2 months old, 27.5” long and 19 lbs, 2 oz.

 

PicsArt_1381298394654

 

❤ Tara

#2013IBW