Tot School: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Miss E ~ 27 Months

I have two totally related, but somewhat off-topic things to say about this week. First, we don't OWN The Very Hungry Caterpillar. WHAT?! I hadn't realized it until we were at the library a couple of weeks ago searching for 'H' books, when I discovered a barely used copy, then promptly snatched it up as Miss E LOVES butterflies. And since spring is on it's way (or so I thought on that particular warm-ish day), I thought it would be a perfect break from our letters as we lead into the week before Easter.

Second, Miss E says "Catta-killer" instead of caterpillar. I almost can't stand the cuteness, and it makes me want to freeze her in time and never let her grow up. It's that cute.

On to Tot School! We had SUCH A FUN WEEK. I have to shout that to you because it really was just so natural. I definitely worked harder to get things together, but the activities just flowed so nicely, and it really felt like a successful Tot School week.

We actually started over the weekend with reading the book. By the time we started structured activities, she was so excited! We even wore some awesome socks for the occasion...

Can I just say that Pinterest was my hero this week? In addition to the Tot Pack, I found a ton of fun stuff on Pinterest, too. Our first activity was to paint a leaf, and we used a white cotton ball as the egg. Miss E got a kick out of it.

The mom from Mommy Montage found this awesome video. Miss E loved it! Such a hit, and she requested to watch the "catter-killer" change into a butterfly over and over again.

Since the book is so colorful, we decided to do some much needed work on colors. I'm pretty sure Miss E knows all of them, but every once and awhile she throws me for a loop. Since she's really into glueing, we made a colorful caterpillar! Then we used puffy balls to match the colors. I used a different number for each color, so we also worked on counting. She was "eh" about this activity after the glueing stopped. I will say she asked to do it again tonight, so I think I'll keep it out next week, too.

I know it's hard to see, but she was particularly sensitive
about the camera this week. Two-year olds. Sheesh.
The next day, I found her doing this in her bedroom... Organizing her bows by colors. I think it's starting to make sense to her!

We did a bunch of Tot School Packs, with the most focus on color ID and tracing. I also laminated the size/sequence caterpillars and butterflies, which she liked, too.

Look at the beginning of the week above, versus the end of the week below. She's really starting to figure it out!

I loved listening to her complete this: "First, he eats straight, then he eats zig-zag, then he eats square, then he eats wavy lines!"

We matched different fruit found in the book to the corresponding colors. Miss E liked it best when I placed the colors, and the she took one picture at a time to match them.

She also enjoyed matching the fruits/colors this way:

And here, Miss E was completing the small to large sequencing:

And of course, since glueing is her main squeeze right now, we counted (and glued) to complete a depiction of the life cycle of the caterpillar/butterfly. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but I wrote down the numbers so she could match them. We even put the corresponding number of "glue dots" to glue each piece. She just loved it.


I could keep going (we did so much this week!), but I think this shows a pretty good portion of what we did. Of course, Mr. C was there to help along the way...

How sweet are they? So much love.
And one more for good measure... I'm starting to see such an amazingly sweet relationship between these two grow. It melts my heart!

I mean seriously. I almost can't take it!
Melts. My. Heart.
That's it for Tot School this week!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Baby Food 101: More veggies!

Welcome back! I've taken a hiatus on the fun food stuff because Mr. C is literally eating me out of house and home. All of my free time has been spent making baby food, so it's been hard to write about it! But here we are.

Last time, we talked about sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Weren't they yummy? Today I'll show you how I like to prepare carrots, peas and the (dreaded) green beans, which are additional great first foods for baby.


Babies just love sweet carrots. My favorite way to prepare them is in the oven. After peeling, cut carrots (try to use whole carrots vs. pre-cut "baby" carrots) into 2-3 inch chunks. If they're thicker, like closer to the stem, cut them in half long ways. Put them in a baking dish, fill with water to the half way point, and cover with tin foil. Put in the oven at 375, and bake for 30-45 minutes, until a fork can easily go through them.

Once they're placed in the container for your blending pleasures, they will likely need additional liquid to thin them about a bit. I love to use the water from the baking dish... It contains some of the nutrients from cooking. Sweet!

Place in your freezing container (I use these), and voila! Carrots for baby! Minus the cooking time, it takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare. One pound of carrots yields about 19-20 ounces of puree (due to added liquid). For Mr. C, that's 6-7 meals. Ya hoo!

Here's what I do with the frozen cubes after they're frozen.

Look at that beautiful orange color!

Peas & Green Beans

Of course, go fresh if you want to go fresh. There are so many great organic frozen veggies, and in the case of peas and green beans, I just feel like it's easier. I am all about easy! Our BJs sells organic frozen peas, so when I need a batch, I don't have to run to the store... I have a gazillion pounds of peas in my freezer. Easy-peasy! Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Anywho, I just throw however much of either the peas or green beans in a microwave safe bowl with water covering them, and pop them in the microwave for a few minutes. Drain them (but keep the water!!!), and place them in your blending container.

Peas are a bit starchy when blended, so you'll definitely need some liquid to thin it out. Use that cooking water!

Look at that gorgeous color. Can't get that in a jar.

Do the same for green beans, but a disclaimer on consistency. It is difficult to get a smooth consistency. I have tried all different sorts, from fresh to frozen, different cuts, etc. And I can NOT get it smooth.

It's a little watery, but then also chunky.
Not good for earlier eaters.
Miss E didn't really care, but without adding anything (other than water), Mr. C gags on it. But he LOVES green beans. I resort to one of two things: I add a fruit puree to it, or I just give in and give him the store bought stuff. It's not as pretty, but so much smoother. And to be honest, it must just be difficult to puree because even the (organic) store bought pouches still have the occasional bits and pieces in it.

With the addition of a fruit puree (2:1 veg to fruit ratio).
So much better!
And there you have it! Mr. C is a champion eater. He LOVES his purees! He even starts fussing if sister has started to eat and I haven't gotten his to him yet. Cracks me up.

So far I've covered the best veggies for early eaters. Next, I'll show you how I do my fruit purees. Fun stuff!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Goodbye Winter. Really. Leave. Now.

I'm just going to put a disclaimer in here that I am well aware that it is almost April and we're celebrating Easter in less than two weeks. Apparently Virginia doesn't agree, and I'm pretty sure that's why my mood has been less than stellar. I know everyone else has probably packed away all of their winter activities, but not us at the Kuda household! We're holding on strong for some more snow...

Yesterday we had more snow fall and stick than I think has happened all year. Seriously. This is what it looked like:

A couple of weeks ago, we were predicted to get a FOOT of snow. How awesome! Mr. Kuda had his shovels ready. Miss E was waiting patiently, ready to shoot outside as soon as she got the go ahead.

Except that it never happened. The picture above is all I have from this winter. Having lived in Boston for five years (and I spent a good portion of my childhood outside of Chicago), this is just down right depressing.

I digress... Anywho, as an homage to the fading winter, or maybe in hopes to bring on one last storm, for Tot School last week, we decided to add some winter theme into the mix. We didn't have a ton of time for structured lessons (because said winter won't leave us alone, neither will sickness!), but of what we did do, I think we were pretty successful!

One of the things Miss E is starting to really get into is matching. I printed out these snowflakes, cut them in half, and she had a blast matching the pairs. We talked about the different colors, and why certain ones may not match (due to different patterns/colors). I love this activity because she can do it herself, but I can also join in the fun.

The first time we did it, I set it up for her, placing one half on the ground,
then giving her another half, one at a time.

Admiring her work. And of course, the horse joined in :)
See? So fun!

Next up was the craft of the week. I have this crafty-rific friend who can basically make up a craft in .5 seconds with no materials except the shirt on her back. We did this activity with a group of kids a month or two ago, and I was waiting for the perfect time to complete it with Miss E... What better way to say goodbye to winter than to make faux snowmen?

Tube sock snowmen! I mean, seriously, how cute are those?! I'm telling you, my friend is a genius. Not only was it a fun craft that lasted all through Mr. C's morning nap, we worked on all sorts of concepts, including counting, big/small, long/short, colors, comparing/contrasting and fine motor skills. Here's the step by step:

Collect any size tube socks. I like longer ones because they make bigger hats while also giving you lots of room to work with. We had two different sizes. Take some batting and stuff it into the sock. You can put some dried beans into the bottom to give it a solid base to balance on, but we didn't have any and it worked out just fine.

Tie the open end in a knot, then fold that end over itself to make a hat for your snowman. It's not needed if you have a big "hat," but it's probably a good idea to use your glue gun (or fabric or craft glue) to secure the edges of the hat down.

Here are the rest of the materials you'll need:
buttons, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, ribbon, and of course,
your glue gun or fabric glue
After you have your hat ready, tie a ribbon around the top third of the puffy part for your snowman's head. After that, decorate to your heart's content!

We used pipe cleaners for the mouth and arms, though I'm sure more crafty folks could get really crazy. Maybe even use real sticks for arms! Crazy, I tell you! We just used buttons for everything else, apart from puffy balls for the top of his hat, and voila! Fun little decorations for you to put up during the winter months. Or in our case, in the spring months, too.

That was pretty much it for Tot School last week. We definitely did our share of reading, too. I'm actually really happy with the outcome with our last ditch effort to say goodbye to winter. Miss E has been asking when Spring will come since we've done this activity, so I think it stuck!

So excited for Tot School next week! I've been planning it for awhile, and it's a perfect way to start off the (almost) first week of Spring. No hints this time!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Wednesday Confessional

The other day I had a hankering for chocolate. And that would be fine if I had nap time to count on, but since that's gone, I'm really finding it hard to indulge myself on my vices during the day. Seriously. Do you know how hard it is to sneak chocolate past a two year old?

We were headed out for Rock & Read last week, and we were running a bit late. Since we were going out that day, I decided it best for me to actually shower. Unfortunately sometimes that means no breakfast for me. What better option than to grab some Dove? Now if only I had the perfect device to sneak it out...

Why, Mr. C's hat, of course! Since Miss E sits behind me in the car, she had no idea. It was the perfect cover. Until her Spidey-like hearing detected my opening the wrappers.

"Mommy, what's that noise?

"Nothing, honey."

"What's that noise?"

"It's the radio honey. Don't you love this song?"

"What's THAT noise?"

I could see her eyes in the rearview mirror, and it was clear that I had been found out. But I ignored her. Because I didn't want to share (clearly, I hadn't learned anything at all from the other day). And because she's never had just a plain 'ole piece of chocolate before (but so you know she isn't deprived, she has received it from a plethora of other vessels), so she didn't really know what she was missing.

She eventually dropped it. After all, she couldn't really suspect Mr. C's hat, could she?

Please tell me I'm not the only one guilty of this...

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


We're Grumpy (aka, mommy fail)

Today was just one of those days. Daylight Savings Time has totally screwed with the Kudas in a not so fun way. I should've expected it at some point, but I'm just going to go ahead and say it: I totally deserved it.

"Mommy, I'm grumpy."
For some reason, the loss or addition of an hour has never impacted us as far as the kiddos are concerned. If you'll recall, Miss E has always been a good sleeper, and to be quite honest, Mr. C isn't as good, but he's better than most. And why do I deserve the sudden punishment of all h*!! breaking loose in our house?

Because every time a mom told me how awful the time change was for her kids, on the outside I was providing a comforting (and knowing?) nod, while on the inside all I could think was, I am so awesome. My kids would never have this problem. Yup. Full disclosure: I was smug. I should have been thinking, I have the best kids in the world and am soooooooo lucky this hasn't impacted us!

Long story short, the past two days have sucked. And the worst part about this is the realization I had while waiting for Miss E to procrastinate as she went number two on the potty for THRITY-FIVE MINUTES after bedtime: I'm the problem here, not the change in time (though I have to say, our schedule is totally wack-a-doo right now because of it). When momma is grumpy, the clan is grumpy. Today was not my best. I was a short-fused, nay-saying, voice-raising hot mess. NO. I don't want you to climb on me and lick my face. NO. I don't want to hold you and your brother while both of you scream in my ears. And NO. Screaming in a banshee voice while also crying and waking your brother up will not afford you the chance to watch Mickey Mouse Club. Ever.

But while I sat there in the dark (per her request) while Miss E went potty, she told me, "Mommy is grumpy like Miss E." Yup. I sure was.

So after we cleaned up, I apologized. Which if you know me, is really hard for me to do, even if it's to a two year old. But shouldn't she know that even grown-ups make mistakes? And isn't it my job to teach her that, even when you have a really bad day and you take it out on people you love, you still have to apologize and own up to your actions?

Once again, the toddler teaches me more about life in five minutes than I've learned in thirty something years.

And by the way, I promise to NEVER be the smug momma again. I PROMISE! This daylight savings time change thingy is no joke.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda


Tot School ~ The Letter G

Miss E ~ 27 months

You know, something about this week had me feeling lazy. I just wasn't excited for the letter G. It's funny how things work out to exceed your expectations sometimes. This ended up being one of our most fun and productive weeks for Tot School! It just proves that you don't have to have anything elaborate planned to do Tot School, just dedicate some time especially for structured learning. Toddlers are great at leading the way. And I just love watching Miss E learn. She's awesome.

And seriously. How cute is she?
This was taken after our new "quiet time." She was
so proud of herself for sitting while reading
books independently. It was a victory for all.
So once again, I just couldn't pick one central "G is for..." item. So we went with gorillas and goats, but as you'll see, there were other things that just happened to pop up. I just went with it...

First, Miss E did her tracing. She loves to do this, but other things got more exciting this week, so it only happened once.

I'm trying to show her how to trace the letter,
but she just hasn't gotten that quite yet.
That's ok. She'll get it eventually!
 Then, she checked out her book basket containing her "G" books. Turns out we talked a lot about bedtime, because most of the G books we have in our house begin with "Goodnight..." She got a kick out of it though, and often put all of her books on her work table to read them.

Checking out Sparkly Garden
 Of course, she loves doing Do-A-Dot artwork! I know I've referenced it before, but I just love the Tot School printables. Miss E just loves them, too!

Since I was feeling particularly lazy, I just did internet searches to find activities. Since Miss E loves painting, we decided to do a foot gorilla, which I found here. I'm pretty sure we could do something like this every day, and Miss E would be thrilled. Here's the basic sequence of the activity. The project was completed over the course of two days:

She was SO proud of herself!
Turns out, Miss E LOVES to glue things! I think I'll start having her glue her name onto her projects instead of me just writing her name. That way, she'll start to recognize more than just the first letter of her name. It will also give her more ownership of her work.

Glueing our gorilla led to Miss E asking for more glueing. Which meant that I really had to think on my toes. This is what happened next!

Basically, I got really good at cutting things out quickly. I used some of our scrap paper, cut out shapes, letters and numbers, then drew/wrote where they should go on pieces of construction paper, kink of like a puzzle. I really think we could have done this all day!

Miss E has her shapes down pat, but definitely could use some work on letter and number recognition. We'll be doing this again!

We added puffy balls for 1:1 correspondence. She loved this!

Glue madness! Such a hit.
Not bad for a week I wasn't excited for, huh? We actually got interrupted by a snow storm, which inspired a final winter activity for the year (and thanks to my awesomely creative friend who gave me the idea!). I'll do a separate post on our winter theme, but because it was so much fun, I'll give you a hint now...

I mean seriously. Can you stand the cuteness???

That pretty much sums up our week! It was so much fun, and I learned a lot about what Miss E and I are capable of, even with little to no planning. Yay for productivity!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kuda
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