Transitioning from Baby’s Nursery to Toddler’s Room

You may have seen my previous post about our son’s baby nursery design. Now that he is no longer a baby, I have made several changes to his room and wanted to do a follow up post with his updated room. One of the major changes was that I rearranged all of the furniture. I wanted to create a layout that gave him more room to play on the floor. Also, he started climbing up on the daybed to look out the window at the garden. Previously, the daybed was just on the edge of the window, so as soon as I saw him leaning over to look out the window, I started rearranging all of the furniture. We also found two cute rugs at Ikea that work well in the middle for a cozy play area.

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I wanted his toys to be organized and accessible for him, so I got the toy box at Ikea also, and ordered the toy hammock online to hold all of his stuffed animals (how did we accumulate so many of those so quickly?!).
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The picture frames are all empty for now, until I eventually get around to ordering prints (you would think we don’t have any pictures of our son or something with all of those empty frames!). The octopus kite was a cool vintage find in E’s favorite color, red. I let him pick out a plant for his room one day when we were out plant shopping, and he picked out a spider plant. 🙂
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This wall has new items, all crafty things that E and I have made together. The weaving was our first craft project together. He handed me nails and helped me make the loom on the back of an old drawer, and helped me pick out yarn from the stash of yarn that I used for his newborn photoshoots.
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These are a couple of activity boards that I made for him. The one on the left is a little magnetic board, that we use with magnetic numbers and letters for learning time. The rest of the time, I keep the letters and numbers packed away since they just end up all over the house otherwise. 🙂 The board on the right is an old cork board that I turned into a fun felt story board. I purchased some felt stickers of owls, fish, bees, and ladybugs at Joann’s Fabrics and then cut out some trees and a pond. I put Velcro on the back of the animals and bugs and E loves playing with them and moving them around. Sometimes the fish even end up in the trees. 🙂
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This branch was another project E and I made together. He loves trees, so I took a branch that I pruned from our yard and we covered it with fabric scraps to hang up in his room.
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His cloud bunting is still up, with the addition of a (temporarily empty) frame above it.
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We are still cosleeping at night, but I am trying to encourage E to use his crib for naps. He was never a fan of the crib, but since my husband converted it to a toddler bed, he is much happier with it. E is an awful napper for the most part, but I was beyond excited a couple of times recently when after playing in his room, he climbed up into his bed on his own and took a nap. 🙂
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E loves to pick out his shoes each day, so I have his box of shoes down low and accessible, along with plenty of books and a few toys.
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This vintage print was an amazing antique store find. 🙂
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That’s it! I also moved the changing table out of this room, into the hallway near my office for a couple of reasons (first so that my clients could use it without having to go into the the personal area of our house; second since it was not very much fun to play on the floor next to a diaper bin!). Pretty much everything else is the same. I try to keep things organized and keep clutter to a minimum so the room does not turn into a huge disaster. Our bedrooms are so small, so keeping them organized is so important! We may do a decluttering round soon on some of those stuffed animals. :-/

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Letting Go of Worrying What Others Think About Us

Friends and loyal readers, I have a confession to make. I have failed my family in one crucial area ever since our son started walking. I have let what others say get the best of me, usually preventing us from enjoying mass on Sunday, and a few times when our son was having a particularly wild day, we did not even go for fear that we were going to annoy everyone else. As moms, we tend to be the spiritual backbone of our family. As my husband’s Godparent, I feel that responsibility even more so. Yet we temporarily got into a rut where we were just so overwhelmed and I felt like I was failing as a mom, wife, Godparent, and Catholic and Christian in general.

Our son is a very active, chatty, social little guy. He loves talking to strangers, and running up to see new people. He was very easy to keep contained in church before he started walking, and was usually on my chest in the baby carrier. However, once he started walking, he mostly lost interest in being in the baby carrier. He likes to explore, be free, and hates feeling constrained. Our normal parish does not have a crying room, which is nice since it encourages families with young children to sit with the rest of the parish. Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys having a toddler near them in church. After a few weeks with some unfortunately discouraging comments, I was too embarrassed to keep going, so we tried other parishes.

I wanted to go to a church with a crying room, so that I could relax a bit. We tried a church with a very full crying room, but after one week there, my husband and I both agreed that was not how we wanted to raise our son. We could see that the kids (even the older, school-aged kids) in there were just getting into a habit of not paying attention to the mass at all, and were just busy playing with toys and all of the other kids. We tried another church where the crying room was usually empty. That worked for a few weeks, but then our son started to catch onto the fact that we were separated from everyone else. He started beating on the glass walls like he was trying to escape from a cage. All of the normal recommendations that people give about keeping your kids occupied during church were not working for us. Normally, at home or at the library, our son is a little bookworm. He loves looking at books and “reading”, but for some reason had no interest in books at all when we were at church. He also loved his sensory box when we were at home, but would not even glance at it when we were in church. I tried making a few pages for a quiet book for him to use during church, but he had absolutely no interest in it during mass (even though he loved those pages when we were at home). I tried setting aside the special books and quiet book pages so he was only looking at them when we were at church and they would be fun and new to him, but that still did not work.

Then one day something occurred to me. Our son is very sensitive to my emotions. I have spent months being tense on Sundays, worrying that his chattering, whining and squirming was disturbing everyone. I have not allowed myself to relax for fear of bothering everyone around us. Then I read this blog post and this one, and the words of these wonderful, experienced Catholic moms assured me that what we were going through was not unusual. I let go of my anxiety that we were disturbing everyone around us. I started making an effort to stop caring what others say or think about us, both in life and in church. I worked on getting myself into a calm, peaceful place before we went to mass. Guess what happened. Our son’s behavior suddenly changed.

The past few weeks have been wonderful. Our son E has been peaceful during mass, has sat quietly with his quiet book, his sensory box, and his big children’s Bible. He has cuddled in my lap and listened to the priest speak. He has loved singing along with the music during mass since he was about five months old, but then a few weeks ago he said “Amen” after everyone else did, and he even reached out to shake my hand during the Sign of Peace. I realized then that maybe I was not doing such a bad job after all.

For some reason, his original sensory box disappeared. I spent days looking everywhere for it, and it was just gone. I figured it was time to upgrade to a toddler model anyway, so I made a new one. I have a little plastic statue of Jesus that someone gave me for my First Communion that E loves. He loves saying “Hi Gee!” when he sees it, so I made sure to include that in the new box. 🙂 I also added some latches and other items that were not in the original box.

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I have gone a bit Pinterest crazy lately researching quiet book templates and planning our tot school homeschool room and curriculum (more on that coming soon). I found some great templates for quiet book pages, especially at this blog. I put together a Pinterest board with a lot of great resources that have inspired me with various pages. Some of the pages I designed on my own and cut out freehand, and others I followed a template, or modified a template to my own design. I plan to do a page for each letter of the alphabet, plus some other pages as well, so it is far from finished but it has plenty to keep our son occupied for now. I do not like cutting out letters, so I found some foam alphabet stickers that I hot glued on where I wanted to spell out words.

This first page is a modified version of the felt board that I made for our son’s room (updated room tour coming soon too). I purchased the felt stickers at Joann’s for the ladybugs, bees, and fish, and added Velcro to the back. The rest I cut out freehand. I also did the same for the page with the owls later in the book.

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DIY Sensory Toys – Pinterest Fails & Mommy-Made Winners

Sensory toys are all the rage these days on Pinterest and elsewhere on the internet. E had his first exposure to sensory toys at a great play date we went to a few months back. The group leader had all different kinds of sensory stations set up, including a bucket of corn starch (E’s favorite), a bubble machine, homemade finger paints, sensory boards, and marshmallow goo. Our little guy had so much fun at that play date that I decided to come home and make a bunch of sensory toys that he could enjoy any time.

I started with the idea of this sensory box, which was inspired by the sensory board at the play date. I liked the idea of putting the sensory activity into a small, portable object that we could bring with us when we are out at a restaurant, etc. I happened to have an empty craft cigar box lying around in one of my craft supply closets and it worked perfectly. I stayed up late one night looking through all of my craft closets for things to glue in the box. I was so excited to give the box to E the next morning, and was so happy when he loved it. 🙂 It was really easy to make…just scraps of fabric and paper with varying textures and miscellaneous items I had in my craft drawers. I used super glue to hold everything in place.

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Next I made him a shaker that he loves using an empty tea tin, some coins and some medical tape. It’s not cute but he loves it! It is shown below in a basket with some more of his sensory toys. In his sensory basket, there are also some rubber sensory balls, a Kush ball, and the sensory bottles that I made.

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As I noticed that E was playing quietly and independently in his bedroom, I thought that would be the perfect time to finally photograph all of his sensory toys (this is something I have been meaning to do for months). As soon as he heard his sensory bottles shaking and making noise as I lined them all up for a photo, he came crawling around the corner so fast that he ended up in my photo. 🙂

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From left to right, the bottles include:
1. Sequins and water (the sequins turned the water pink)
2. Water with green food coloring, body oil and miscellaneous beads and charms. This was a big Pinterest fail…I do not like how the body oil turned so cloudy. It may stay clear with some brands of body oil, but this is how it ended up looking with Avon Skin So Soft. E loves it though so I guess that is all that matters.
3. Water, blue food coloring, dish soap, and glitter. He loves this one.
4. Plastic rhinestones and water.
5. Plastic magnetic letters (from the dollar store) and beads.

I glued all of the bottles shut with super glue, but still make sure he only plays with these when we are keeping a close eye on him since he likes to try to chew on everything.

Next up is his sensory board. I made this using a small shipping box that I cut open and laid flat. I store it folded in half and it works out pretty well. It was quick and dirty assembly with duct tape, and not Etsy style pretty, but I could not care less. He loves the board, it didn’t take me long to make, cost me almost nothing, and that is all that matters to me. 🙂 I used pieces of felt leftover from his room decorations, bits and pieces left over from my bathroom mosaic, carpet sample, miscellaneous beads and rhinestones, pipecleaners, popsicle sticks, and some leftover swatches of textured wallpaper, window covering, and drawer liner. Again, I used super glue to secure everything to the pieces of felt. Then I attached the felt with duct tape.

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Here is his absolute favorite, even after months of playing with it…the container of corn starch!
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Here are two that I saw on Pinterest that were huge fails. I made squishy bags with some little dollar store finds, blue hair gel in one and shaving cream in the other. I closed up the two freezer bags with duct tape. I thought he would love them, but he hasn’t shown much interest in squishing them. He just wants to chew on them and those teeth are dangerously sharp. I am putting these bags away for later, when he stops chewing on everything.

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Another sensory activity that E was crazy about was a small bowl of water with ice cubes. I have stopped doing this activity with him though since it has turned into a frustrating thing every time we are at a restaurant and he wants to stick his hands in everyone’s ice water. 🙂 He makes a pretty big mess with his sensory play time, but the vacuum robot is great for cleanup. My husband is not a fan of the corn starch thing since it tends to get everywhere, but the robot is usually pretty good about getting rid of the evidence of the huge white mess before Daddy gets home. 😉
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As with any homemade toy with small parts, be sure to only let your baby play with these while supervised so the small parts don’t turn into choking hazards! Also be sure that everything is properly adhered with strong glue. I like to arrange the parts in shapes so I immediately will be able to see if something is missing and I can grab it out of his tiny little hands. 🙂

Free Christian Nursery Printable Artwork!

When I was making the wall art display for our baby E’s nursery, I designed some religious themed artwork to frame and hang on his wall. I included the two Bible passages that inspired me the most during my pregnancy as well as a very inspirational quote from one of our favorite saints, St. Francis of Assisi. You can see how I integrated them into the design of his room here. I wanted to share them with all of you in case anyone else finds inspiration from these quotes as well! Click on the images below to be brought to a printable pdf version of each image. If you decide to use these, feel free to show me pictures of how you used them in your home!

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francis psalm139