Two

Dear Poppy,

Today you are two. And oh, you are so two. The twoiest two who ever twoed. 

When your older brother was two, I would smugly tell people how much I loved age two. I didn't know what people were talking about when they referred to the Terrible Twos. Two was my favourite. 

The universe responded appropriately by sending me you.

You with your full-body tantrums, your high-pitched screaming, your floppy rag doll maneuver, your belly laugh, your feelings (which may well be the biggest feelings I've ever witnessed) and your deep, unwavering love. You are intense, baby girl. And I love it.

We were out walking last week and we ran into a neighbour we haven't seen in a while. He commented on how big you've grown and then he said, "she has one volume setting, hey?" This is not our next door neighbour, Pops. He lives a few houses down. But it's true. You have one volume setting: loud. You say things and you feel things on the highest level.

You love your big brother more than anything. When he's upset, you drop whatever you're doing to hug him and say, "hey bud, hey bud, you okay?" When he goes to school, you spend the day asking me when we can go pick him up, "jacket? Shoes? Let's GO GET GRADY!" Your biggest delight in life is when Grady lets you play with his Lego, even though your main goal is breaking all the things.

You love to eat food and try new things. It's impossible for anyone to eat unless you're also eating because you glom onto whoever has food and do a little eyebrow wiggle and say, "try it? try it? try it?" until they give you some. Your favourite foods are cheesy pasta, pizza, yogurt (goat!), apple sauce (appie shosh!), blueberries, and blackberries. Last weekend you were having a tough day and you kept asking for blackberries so we just kept handing them to you until you'd managed to inhale $6 worth of blackberries in one day. The diapers that followed were...not my favourite. You're still allergic to peanuts and eggs but your allergist is hopeful that you'll grow out of the egg allergy and he gives you about a 20% chance of growing out of the peanut allergy. You've managed to go a full year (*knocks on wood furiously*) without a serious allergic reaction. 

You are an amazing singer and dancer. You sing all day long and as soon as you hear music, your hips start to wiggle and soon the music is moving through your entire body. Your favourite songs to sing are The Wheels on the Bus and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Your favourite music to dance to is Death from Above and anything by the Swedish metal band Avatar. I couldn't make that up, Poppy. I really couldn't. When your uncle played Hail to the Apocalypse for us, you danced so intensely and enthusiastically that he recorded you and showed the band. You're part of the Swedish metal scene, baby. Your father and I are so proud. 

After you were born, you and I had about an hour together before the nurse told your dad, in that calm but firm nurse voice that everyone knows to obey without question, to please pick you up off my chest. The next thing I remember, our quiet birthing room went from four people to what felt like 20 people. One person was putting another IV in my hand, someone else was holding a clipboard with consent forms in front of my other hand, there was a lot of shouting and a lot of blood. They wheeled me out of the room, away from you, and as I stared up at the flourescent lights, I felt terror like I've never felt before. Every cell in my body felt like ice. I was passing in and out of consciousness but every instinct in my body was telling me to get up off the stretcher and get back to you. It was the closest I've ever felt to being an animal. 

I woke up after surgery in the recovery room, howling for my baby. The nurses were so kind. One stood by my bed and held my hand until I was cleared to go back to my room. They wheeled me to the maternity ward and into our room and I was terrified at what I would find. Would you be hysterical, crying inconsolably because you'd been separated from your mom so soon after you were born? Would you be hysterical once I held you because you didn't know me? (Listen, typing this now I realize it doesn't sound reasonable but you have to remember, I had not slept in days and I was still woozy from the anesthetic.) They wheeled me into our room and you were curled up, sleeping peacefully on your dad's chest. You slept on his chest for three hours while I was in surgery, without a peep. As soon as I saw you I started to shake and cry. Your dad put you in my arms and a wave of relief washed over me. You were in my heart for so long, before I was even pregnant, and now you were in my arms and I knew everything would be okay.

That feeling has persisted. Through sleepless nights and temper tantrums and hospital visits. You are in my heart, and in my arms, and we're going to be okay. 

Happy second birthday, Penelope Bloom, Poppy Doodle Bug, Pops, The Biscuit, our little Honey Badger. We lub you a lot.  

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The Fingerprint Heart - Easy and Beautiful Mother's Day Craft

Listen, pals. There's still time to whip out your DIY hat and win Mother's Day with this beautiful (and easy!) craft. 

Here's what you need*:

  • Blank stretched canvas, square, any size (8 x 8 inch is an excellent size)
  • Acrylic paints in various colours (if you've got a whole pile of kids, maybe give each one their own signature colour)
  • A template (cut a heart out of a piece of paper. Boom! Template.)
  • Some fingers. Kid fingers. Your own fingers. Whatever fingers you think the special lady in your life will want to see on her Mother's Day craft.

*some of these links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase from the link, I earn a small percentage of the sale

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Here's what you do:

Prepare your canvas by taping your template onto the canvas with painter's tape (so you don't damage the edges of your canvas when you take the template off). 

Pour a small amount of one colour of paint onto a palette or plate or paper towel, whatever works for you.

Lightly dab a finger in the paint and then gently tap on the canvas to create fingerprint polka dots. Continue with different fingers and colours, allowing some drying time in between colour changes. Make sure you do some dots along the edge of your template so your heart has a nicely defined shape.

Allow to dry completely. 

Make a legend: write the names of the owners of the fingerprints on the back edge of the canvas and have them do a single fingerprint beside their name in their signature colour. Make sure the paint on the front of your canvas is BONE DRY before you flip it over to do this part.

Easter Baskets and Holiday Extravaganzas

We're not a religious family so Easter is very much about the chocolate in our house. Do you do Easter baskets? Egg hunts? Big family dinners? We're still figuring out what works best for our family, especially since Poppy has allergies we need to accommodate. It wasn't as difficult last year when we could swap out the yummy treats in her Easter basket for books and socks. 

It's also becoming difficult to enjoy a little extravagance when every holiday brings with it an influx of stuff. Sometimes it feels like we're drowning in stuff. I'm not pointing any fingers (because let's be real, I'm the worst offender) but it seems like we're in a never-ending cycle of accumulating things and then struggling to find places for them. 

How do you handle holidays? Do you enforce a "consumables, only" rule? Do you ask others to not indulge your kids so you have the opportunity to without feeling like things are getting out of hand? Do you shut up and roll with it because really there aren't that many holidays in the year? 

Fun DIY Gift Sets for Kids

I love putting in the time and effort to find the perfect gift for the people I love. My gift guide has a few items on it for kids (you'll find a little something for everyone on it, so check it out if you need help with your holiday shopping) but I wanted to put together some suggestions for cool, DIY gift sets the little ones in your life are sure to love. Most kids love receiving toys vs educational tools but if you can sneakily combine the two, both the recipients and their parents will be thrilled.

For the Budding Engineer

Encourage their interest in STEM with Learning Resources Playground Engineering & Design.

Finish your gift for the young engineer in your life with a Top Secret notebook where they can keep track of their projects.

For the Aspiring Artist

Craft supplies are always a huge hit in our house (except glitter, don't even get me started on the glitter).

The GoldieBlox Craft-Struction Box encourages tinkering with STEM-based crafts. It's definitely not for the younger crowd but if you've got an elementary school-aged kiddo on your list, this set is golden.

Or build your own kit with fun, colourful craft items like Smart Paper Edger Scissors in different cutting patterns, 

and 500 sheets of colourful construction paper to cut with those fun scissors (why do kids love cutting stuff so much? I don't get it),

and the only acceptable kind of glitter: glitter glue (allll the glitter glue. Seriously, I kind of want this set for myself).

Find a container that has multiple small compartments and fill them with bits and bobs: buttons, sequins, pompoms, googly eyes, whatever you can find that someone could potentially glue onto paper. 

For Your Tiny Scientist

Grady loves "doing science" and I am not science-y. At all. I have as much fun with his science stuff as he does is what I'm saying. It's pure magic for both of us.

Get in the mood to experiment with a great book. Ada Twist, Scientist is written by the same author as Rosie Revere, Engineer and is a great story to encourage curiosity. Pair it with Ada's Twist's Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists for maximum fun.

It's never too early to start promoting safety. Every scientist needs to protect their eyes with safety googles. These kid-sized safety goggles look like the type grownup scientists wear. 

Liquid droppers in kid-friendly sizes are an essential part of science experiments. Set a kid up with the droppers, some plastic beakers, and water coloured with simple food colouring

Jumbo tweezers are excellent for examining items under a giant magnifying glass, or go high-tech with the Zoomy Handheld Digital Microscope.

For Wee Beauticians

My girl Tairalyn put together a DIY Hair Salon for her daughter's birthday because she's a creative genius. 

{image source: littlemissmama.com}

{image source: littlemissmama.com}

Throw a spray bottle, detangling brush, wide-tooth comb, handheld mirror, and assorted hair flair in a bucket and you're good to go. Just leave the round brushes to the professionals or someone might lose their bangs (shout out to nine-year-old Hillary who had to cut one out of her hair and walked around with a half-inch long fuzz fringe for months). 

{image source: miasmoccs.com

{image source: miasmoccs.com

For Little Handymen and Handywomen

Safety first! Safety goggles, a kid-sized hard hat, and high visibility gear (that doubles as a warm fleece or raincoat) send the message to your little worker that safety is paramount. 

{image source: lilworkersafety.ca

{image source: lilworkersafety.ca

{image source: lilworkersafety.ca}

{image source: lilworkersafety.ca}

A few fun items that encourage learning like a toy tape measure, mini traffic cones, and toolbench will set your little one up for hours of imaginative play.

For the Future Doctor

Who's got a little one fascinated with how bodies work? Learning Resources has a great Pretend and Play Doctor Set that is actually beneficial for parents too if you want to explain doctor's procedures before you take your little one to an appointment.  

Or build your own Boo Boo Clinic like Jen at Mama Papa Bubba did for her daughter.

The First Human Body Encyclopedia makes anatomy accessible for the elementary school crowd. Pair it with the Human Body Model for a visual learning aid.

And if you've recently found yourself in the "where do babies come from?" conversation, What Makes a Baby is a great book for explaining the birds and the bees to little people. Bonus points for being inclusive and mindful that there are different ways to make a baby.

For Mini Animal Lovers

My friend Andrea had a pet adoption-themed birthday party for her daughter and I love the idea of putting together a similar gift. 

This Pretend & Play Animal Hospital is great for little ones to familiarize themselves with the workings of a veterinarian's office. 

When they're ready to actually be the animal doctor, this costume and a stuffed animal to love are the perfect gift for future vets. 

Do you have a go-to DIY gift for kids? Share it in the comments! 

Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links, which means I make a small percentage of the sale if you buy through my link. Affiliate links are a bonus for me but don't influence my opinions. I've not been compensated or paid to include any items in this gift guide.