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What do you do with an inherited roasting pan?  Why, you make it into a sensory bin, of course!

Fill it full of balls and enjoy five minutes of hands-free time because your son is distracted and doesn't need to be held.  Dooter is especially tired lately and is sleeping more than usual; he must be growing or fighting something off.  Whatever the case, he is no treat while he's awake, crying and needing to be held more often than not.  I had this enormous roasting pan (passed down from my grandparents) in the kitchen for an art project with Yummy (coming soon!).  After I cleaned it out, I remembered how fond of lids Dooter is and how he might find 3 minutes of joy from playing with it.  I gathered all the balls I could find from the toy baskets, plopped them in and set Dooter in front of it.

 
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I love the idea of having a Summer Bucket List -the season is so very short here and there are so many things I want to do with my kids.  Having those ideas posted on my fridge reminds me to find the time and just do them!  And it is a list, so of course I can't resist.  I created this template last summer, but prettied it up a bit this year for maximum list-making enjoyment.  

Click on the image below to print yourself a copy.     

 
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Today is Dooter's half-birthday!  A whole year and a half old!  My own birthday is the day after Christmas, so my mom invented Half Birthdays when I was young, allowing me to have a summer party with my friends and not have the event overshadowed by the winter holidays.  Dooter is a Christmas baby as well (December 21st)  so the tradition continues on.  It's a fun little celebration that makes for another special day in the year. 

 
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Yummy loves exploring the pasture, and so do I.  Whenever we go out, I am always amazed by the many wildflowers, grasses, sages, and lichens.  The other day we brought back these treasures:

 
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Yummy is fascinated by ice cream cones -I'm not sure if this is a typical kid thing or if it's because she so rarely gets one.  Whatever the case, she loves them and often pretends to make them out of balled up socks, cotton handkerchiefs, etc.

 
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I love sensory bins.  When my kids are cranky and finding it hard to entertain themselves, sensory play helps them calm down and focus on something other than their bad moods.  I’ve enjoyed making themed bins for my four-year-old, Yummy, for a year or more now, but have been finding it hard to find something safe and interesting for Dooter, who is almost 16 months and mouths anything he can get his hands on.  At Christmas I made a winter themed bin, using “snow-balls” I cut out from a 3-inch thick piece of foam as a filler.  The size of the balls was great since Dooter couldn’t fit them in his mouth, but the bin was a total failure.  I’m not sure what it was; it looked beautiful -all white and blue and silvery, but the kids didn’t play with it for more than five minutes.  Maybe it was the texture of the foam.  Whatever the reason, I was a bit discouraged (cutting out all those snow balls took a loooong time) and didn’t try any new ones until I saw the idea for using plain oatmeal on Train Up a Child as simple and non-toxic sensory play.
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Why is it that the simplest things are always the most entertaining?  This bin took me about 5 minutes to put together and they have since spent hours and hours playing in it.  We started out with a couple spoons and bowls for mixing and stirring but the bin soon got loaded with dishes from their play dishes basket.
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A word of warning: though super easy to make and lots of fun to play with, this has been quite messy!  I used a vinyl tablecloth underneath to lessen the spread of oats, but it seems to stick to baby feet very nicely and then brush off onto the carpet.  I’ve done a lot of vacuuming lately.