Find us on Surprisingly Special

As of 2016, this blog, Pancakes in Bed, is no longer active. Please come find us at!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Walker in the Park

Check out this happy camper showing off his new reverse walker!!

Henry's physical therapist hooked him up with this walker to help Henry get some practice walking. I will admit, I was pretty skeptical about the idea of Henry using a walker because he was never successful in walking with the "push toys" that pre-walkers often use for practice. Like this wagon that Calvin used to push Henry around in ;)

Or this one, also given to us by Henry's PT.

With the push toys, Henry was always more interested in chewing on the handles or playing with the toys on the front than he was pushing them. We could never persuade him to really walk with a push toy at all. 

He cruises around the furniture really well, but cruising is moving sideways and he needs practice walking forward. We have been helping him walk by holding his hands or his hips. The reverse walker will allow him to be more independent as he works on walking and I'm very happy to report that he is much more willing to actually walk with it than he was with the push toys!

We brought his walker on our camping trip last weekend. Check him out in action! Steering is going to be a problem for a while, I think... But, hey, he's on the go! One step at a time, as the saying goes!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tot Play Tuesday: 3 Fall Art Ideas

The first official day of fall is tomorrow and while I am still basking in Indian Summer here in California, I know lots of my friends are already starting to enjoy cooler weather, leggings and scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, and soon, gorgeous fall foliage.

So here are three art ideas from last year's fall blog posts to get you and your little ones in the spirit of the season (even if it is Indian Summer where you are too!). 

These are three art projects that I did with Calvin and Henry last year, and I'm thinking I'm going to bring them back and do them again this fall. It will be neat to compare their art from last year with this year. All three of these projects are pretty easy if you've got a few art supplies on hand. 

All you need for this gorgeous artwork are some paints, paper, and any kind of marker or pen. I used a brown sharpie. The paints I used were a mix of fingerpaints and tempera paint. You could do the same thing with watercolors, draw the tree trunk and let them paint away! I bet watercolors would be so pretty. If you're not up for freehanding a tree trunk, print one out! 

I did this project with the boys after Halloween to use up the little bitty pumpkins we had. And then we did it again with apples. What I love about this art project is that you can throw it together as a last minute idea with whatever you have on hand. Any kind of paint or even ink stamp pads would work for this, and just about any kind of fruit or veggie. 

Torn Paper Collage

I've always enjoyed making collage art. In high school and college I used to make lots of magazine collages. When working with little kids, I like torn paper collage because then they don't have to worry about being skilled with scissors. For Calvin, I did what I would have done for my first graders: I cut the paper into strips first so that he could (in theory) tear small pieces off. (If you read the post, you'll see that the project did not go over as well as I'd dreamed it would!). For collage art, of course, you don't need to draw anything, you could just go for it with the paper or you can start with a shape or the start of a picture like my tree trunk and turkey head.

Happy Fall Y'all!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Friday Favorite: Ergo Carrier

Yesterday at Calvin's preschool one of the other moms asked me about my baby carrier. I always have Henry strapped to me in the Ergo when I'm dropping off and picking up Calvin.

I told her I love our Ergobaby carrier. We've been using an Ergo carrier sine the Bean was a tiny baby.

That one was a Performance Ergo, which was great for hiking because it's a water resistant material that didn't absorb much sweat. That particular Ergo met an untimely demise during Henry's babyhood when I shut the car door with the strap hanging out... the strap got caught under the wheel and ripped off. Oops. 

So then we got a new one and I decided to go for the organic one because I knew from my friends' organic Ergo that the material is really soft and comfy. I love it. I still use it just about every day. 

I actually wrote a post about babywearing a while back and in that post I wrote all about why I love our Ergo so much. It's easy to put on/take off. It's comfy with Henry's weight and doesn't hurt my back (though, admittedly Henry isn't that heavy for a 2-yr-old at 23 lbs). It's easy to clean - I just throw it in the washer and dryer. I will say that the color has faded some from the sun and the washing/drying, but that is probably related to the dye in the organic fabric. Our old Ergo didn't fade at all (the "performance" one). 

But, like I told this other mom, there are so many other great baby carriers on the market now! I don't even know anything about the newer ones. The Becco? The Boba carrier? We have the Boba wrap, but they have a carrier now too! The new Ergo360? I often see other parents with sweet-looking baby carriers that I've never seen before. 

So babywearing parents our there, fill me in! 

What cool carrier are you and your little one using?? What do you love about it? 

(P.S. I have no affiliation with Ergobaby other than being a satisfied customer! I'm not getting anything from them for writing about their product.)

First Week of Preschool

Last week was Calvin's first week of preschool, and we also made a change to Henry's therapy schedule so that now he has therapy sessions Monday - Thursday. I had kinda imagined that with Calvin in preschool, it would feel like I had more time/freedom to go out and do things with Henry or run errands/get stuff done. But I am realizing that between Calvin's drop-off and pick-up times and Henry's therapy schedule, life actually feels much busier than before! 

I've been thinking about how the rhythm of the school day and school year will be the rhythm of our lives for the next couple of decades-ish. Feels like we're at the start of a big, important journey though the school years of parenting. Seems kind of daunting when I think about it that way! But there I go getting ahead of myself... Slow down, it's only the first week of preschool! 

Calvin seems to like school. Though, we did have our first drop-off cry-fest this week, followed by our first sick day (not a coincidence). Keeping him home sick felt weird because he didn't want to go in anyway that morning, so I kind of felt like I was giving in to his whining. But with the green slime snot coming out of his little nosie there was no way I was going to send him in to spread those germs all over his classroom. Ew. No. Plus I know the whining was also a symptom of the cold. Even grown-ups get cranky when they don't feel well (ahem, James). 

But apart from this cold episode (the first of many, no doubt!) he does seem to like school. When I drop him off the kids do free play first thing in the morning, and he usually goes straight to the reading corner and picks out a book. I've also seen him playing with some of his classmates, which is so nice to see. When I pick him up he's sitting on the rug listening to the read-aloud and looking half-asleep and sweaty! It's a long day for a little guy! It's just about the length of a regular school day, but they do get an hour or so naptime. When he sees me he immediately signs "eat" which is no surprise because when I look into his lunchbox at the end of the day I see that he's barely eaten anything. His teachers say he chugs his milk, though :) 

I taught his teachers a few ASL signs that he uses to help them understand him. They were really receptive and seemed to appreciate it. He hasn't started seeing his new school speech therapist yet, but I have spoken with her and it sounds like she's working with the teachers on setting up a time so maybe he'll be able to start next week. He should be getting an hour of therapy each week, and his new therapist is going to touch base with his doctor at Stanford about recommendations for his therapy. 

It's only been a week, so I know we're all still in the adjustment phase. I think Calvin will get used to the long school day and I hope he'll start eating more at lunch! And even though it's kind of surprising how busy our new schedule feels, I actually like being busy. Plus, another big part of our day is Henry's afternoon nap so I can generally count on a sweet hour and a half long break which I will totally use for responsible and productive purposes and not to lie on the couch eating bonbons... 

Calvin's runny nose is much better today, so it's back to school for him and a good thing, too, because I am signed up to volunteer in his calssroom for a couple of hours today! With Henry in tow... we'll see how that goes... wish me luck!

Monday, September 14, 2015

While Calvin's Away, Henry will Play!

Calvin started preschool last week! Eeek!!

He was excited to be dropped off on his first day and I didn't even cry! ;) Seems like his first week of school went well. Definitely some adjusting happening, but he's happy and eager to go each morning and when I go to pick him up, he's always sitting on the rug with his classmates listening intently to the story his teacher is reading and craning his little neck to see the pictures. 

While Calvin is at school, Henry will continue to be pretty busy with his therapies. But on that first day, I ended up canceling all of Henry's therapies so that I could have more time to spend dropping Calvin off. After we said "Bye Bye" to big brother and dropped Daddy off at the train station, Henry and I decided to go celebrate Calvin's first day of preschool at Hop n Play!

Hop n Play is a fun indoor play space for littles. We actually had Calvin's 2nd birthday party here. They have toy play areas, some small carousel-type rides, an air bounce room, and this cool balloon room where four fans blow dozens of balloons around in circles. So simple. So awesome.

I wish I could cancel therapy every day and do fun stuff like this with Henry!

No, not really. 

Ok, yeah I do. But I know, I know, therapy is important. So we'll all put on our big boy pants and go to school and work and therapy and save fun stuff like this for special days :) 

I think it will be nice having lots more one-on-one time with Henry. I had that with Calvin before Henry was born, and now it kind of feels like it's Henry's turn. I'm sure the year will fly by and before we know it, it will be time for Henry to start school! So we'll try to make the most of it while we can. 

Happy Monday! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

When Calvin is Suspiciously Quiet...

I bet you know the feeling, fellow parents. You're busy doing something, cooking, folding laundry, changing your other kid's diaper, checking Facebook... and suddenly you realize the house is quiet.

Too quiet.

Next thought is something like: Wait! Where's the toddler? (Or maybe, Oh sh**! Where's the toddler?)

Unrolling an entire brand new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom?

Stuffing his face with Cheerios from the pantry which he managed to open himself?

Distributing the laundry all over the living room floor?

Not Calvin.


When Calvin is suspiciously quiet... he's usually sitting down somewhere reading a book.

Not that he never makes messes or does naughty things like dump out all of his stuffies/train tracks/duplos/you-name-it all over the floor or push his baby brother down and sit on him... It's just that when he's doing something naughty it's usually something LOUD.

But when he gets really quiet, I can almost always find him curled up somewhere with a book. The kid loves books. And he's perfectly content to look through books by himself. Maybe he's "reading the pictures." Maybe he's remembering the story from when a grown-up has read it. Maybe he's making up a story.

I watch him and I see him look at each page thoughtfully, turning pages periodically as though he were really reading.  Sometimes he gets to the end and starts over at the beginning, but usually once he finishes one he's on to another. Some mornings he'll go through stacks of books leaving behind a wake of them strewn on the floor.

He doesn't seem to have a specific favorite, but he has always loved Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak is another favorite at the moment, and also this Little People Valentine's book (which gets on James' nerves because it's more of a toy than a storybook... Sorry honey! The kid loves it!).

Unfortunately, his love for books does not extend to taking good care of his books. Some of his favorites have been loved literally to pieces... though to be fair, a few classes of first graders loved them a little too hard before Calvin ever got his hands on them. 

Calvin loves books so much, he has taken to snuggling a book with him in bed instead of a stuffie. Last night it was Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose book of nursery rhymes.

Goodnight from Calvin and Mother Goose!

What are your kid's favorite books? Any other Mo Willems fans? My favorite Elephant and Piggie book is My Friend is Sad. So funny and sweet! What about you?

Or how about most annoying books that your kids make you read? Like that Valentine's book!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What I Love About My Kids' Therapists

When Henry was about to start speech therapy in the spring, I was really unsure about the whole thing. To me he seemed so far from being able to communicate that I felt like we were in for a whole lotta frustration. On the other hand, I knew that speech therapy was supposed to help him learn to communicate and he certainly needed help, so off we went. 

His first day of group speech therapy was pretty disastrous. He couldn't sit still, he kept fussing, wanting his bottle, wanting to get on the floor... I was thinking,  He cannot do this. He is not ready. This is for, like, big kids. He has the mentality of a baby. He can't even sit in the chairs. He can't sit and listen. He can't do these activities. He can't do any of this! This is a huge mistake. 

The therapists assured me that every kid's first day looks like a hot mess. I suspected that they were just trying to make me feel better. 

But over the next few sessions, the more I talked with our group therapist, Monica, the more I started to come around out of my haze of he can't do this. For starters, we got him a chair with a buckle so he didn't have to sit in my lap. Monica started outlining some goals for Henry. She would tell me things like, "He's making good eye contact. We can work on getting him to direct his gaze to follow someone or something." And, "He's doing a lot of babbling, we can work on encouraging him to imitate sounds." When we would do activities with the other kids, she would say "Henry's goal is just to ______," basically simplifying the activity to something reasonable for him to do. 

When I started speech therapy with Henry, I was so hung up on all the things he couldn't do and how incredibly long I imagined his journey to being able to communicate would be. I kept thinking some kids like Henry never talk, and that made me afraid. And the fear clouded my ability to see what Monica could see.

This is what I love about working with our therapists. Not just Monica, but all of them. When they look at Calvin and Henry, they see what they can do right now and what they can learn to do next. 

Their view is not clouded by fear or anything else. They care about Calvin and Henry, they want to see them grow and succeed, but they don't have all the emotional baggage that I carry for my kids. 

They are not trying to look decades into the future. They are looking at the next step. What can we work on right now? 

And it's so important for me to be reminded on a regular basis of what they can do right now and what they can learn to do next. I need to hear those things to help me shake off the fear. To bring my focus back to the present. 

As I think about Calvin getting ready to start preschool and start work with a new speech therapist I hope sincerely that these new professionals in our life will be able to do the same. I hope they will see all that he is capable of, and his potential to learn. 

I am very grateful to all the therapists working with my kids now and those we have worked with in the past. Thank you for helping Calvin and Henry and thank you for helping me. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hot Yoga... More Like Snot Yoga

I spent the summer (sorta) training for the Giant Race 10k. Now that the race is over, I'm trying to get back into my yoga practice and I'm trying to balance it with keeping up my running. 

In the spring, I was doing Bikram yoga and this month I switched to a heated vinyasa studio. I like hot yoga because I feel like it helps me really get a good stretch through my muscles and it feels relaxing. And challenging. Don't get me wrong, heated vinyasa is no joke. 

One small hitch in my fitness game is that the entire family came down with a cold. It started with the boys and their runny noses. Then James got the worst of it and had to take a sick day. I also had a terrible runny nose, but I was in denial about it so while James was home on his sick day I decided to take advantage of that and go to an afternoon yoga class. Because moms don't get sick, right? Right, guys??

Anyway, I didn't bring my mat towel, and I don't bring a face towel because I'm used to Bikram where they teach you not to wipe away your sweat. So basically I had nothing to save me when my nose started running halfway through class. Fun fact: hot yoga will open up not only your pores, but also your sinuses! And I knew this, but I was in such denial about having a cold that I forgot to grab something to wipe my nose with during class. (I can't be sick. Moms don't get sick. I feel fine. *Sniff*)

So not only am I sweating and stretching, I'm also sniffling and trying to keep breathing through my nose without snot-rocketing onto my mat which is already getting slippery with sweat - should've brought that darn mat towel! By the end of class I'm a hot yoga mess. Snot is mixing with the sweat on my face, and I'm trying to discreetly transfer some of the slime to my bare arm because my stretchy yoga top is too tight to reach my face. So gross, y'all. I probably should have just sucked it up and left my mat in the middle of class to blow my nose. But I kept thinking, it'll be fine! I'm sure it'll stop any second now... 'Cause I'm not even sick! 

So stubborn. 

And the moral of this cautionary tale is... always bring your mat towel to hot yoga! #facepalm

Or, if you have a cold, go ahead and admit that you're sick and stay home with a cup of tea instead! While your toddlers wipe their snotty noses on your pants. If you're as lucky as me, anyway. #butmomsdontgetsick

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ocean Themed Tot Play

Yesterday we watched the first installment of a 3-night TV documentary series by PBS and BBC called Big Blue Live. Big Blue Live is celebrating and exploring a huge gathering of marine animals in nearby Monterey Bay. They are filming live from Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as from helicopters and boats out on the bay to see the animals: humpback whales, blue whales, elephant seals, sea otters, sharks and more. It's like a huge ocean animal party that apparently happens every year in Monterey Bay. I so wish we could drop everything and take the boys down there today! We were just there a few months ago for a visit.

On the deck at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Big Blue Live reminded me of this ocean animal theme week we did a while back. Calvin LOVES marine animals. They are probably his favorites, maybe even more than dinosaurs! Here are a few ways we brought ocean wildlife into our home :)

Ocean Sensory Bin

I bought a set of small aquatic animal toys from Target and we made them a little ocean habitat with water and blue food coloring. I don't have a photo of it, but later we even added some small seashells. Calvin liked to pretend the crab was a hermit crab and he would try to stuff it into the seashells. 

Squishy Ocean Sensory Bag

This is a zip-lock bag full of blue hair gel with some of the animal toys from our set. So squishy and fun! Henry later destroyed this by biting it... so just be careful! 

Ocean Bed

Looks suspiciously like our Space Bed, doesn't it? Yup, we just left the blue sheet on and swapped out the rocket ship and astronaut toys for some ocean animal stuffies.

Some sensory play and some pretend play. We also have a few favorite songs about ocean animals: Slippery Fish, Baby Beluga, and Under the Sea!

Check out Big Blue Live if you have any interest in marine widlife. It's on live tonight and tomorrow on PBS!