Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog

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Toddler Activities with Egg Cartons

It is especially fun to create toddler activities with recycled trash!  Cheap, homemade (of sorts) and DIY are some of my favorite descriptions for toddler activities.  So, egg cartons are perfect!  I keep a stack of different kinds of egg cartons in my craft cupboard.  They are great for sorting, counting, and art activities.  They are also great for holding small items and organizing your drawers or cupboards.  Ice cube trays also serve similar purposes.  Here are some basic activities with egg cartons but you can do so much more!  One-to-one correspondence activities such as placing wooden balls, puff balls or wiffle balls in cartons are early math activities.  You can also color code the egg baskets or assign numbers or letters.  You can use them for more complex sorting or use them as paint dishes.  I still remember uses egg cartons when I was in elementary school for painting projects.

Here is B (21 months old) is placing wooden balls in a 6-egg carton.  He did NOT like the activity with puff balls so try different materials and don’t get discouraged.  I usually have to introduce an activity several times before B wants to try it.  We counted each ball as he placed them in the carton.  I’ve seen other people write numbers or letters on the balls and in the cartons for a matching activity.  We’ll build up to that.


egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom












Here is B with a 12-egg carton.  He enjoyed filling it with wiffle balls.  No puff balls, please!  Maybe it’s boy thing?   A major part of the activity is taking the carton off the shelf and putting it back when B is done.  He knows he can’t get something new until he puts everything back.  The practice of moving things on and off the shelf helps with body control.

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom

egg carton activities from forcingthebloom












Here are some more ideas from other Montessori mamas using egg cartons !

Living Montessori Now  – Color Walk

Our Natural Journey  – Repurposing Egg Cartons

Kindergarten Basics – Upcycle Egg Cartons to Building Blocks + links to many other egg carton ideas!

Gift of Curiosity – Math with Egg Cartons + several other cool Montessori activities

Any other ideas?  How have you used your egg cartons?

We’ll revisit this theme again in the Spring!  Say, around Easter time!  You, me and that crazy Easter bunny.  This will be the first year B really gets to open Christmas presents and will understand the idea of an Easter egg hunt.  Can’t wait!  Have a Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom

Christmas Tree from forcingthebloom







My Girl Mack

If you’re looking for some super cute holiday or shower gifts, I recommend My Girl Mack!  You can take a look at this mom’s adorable hats, headbands, and blankets on Etsy.  I love Baby B’s knit hats!  Here are some pictures from last spring and this fall.  I can’t believe how cubby he was and how big he’s getting.  🙂  The baby headbands are also precious.  I’ve given a couple away as shower gifts.  Happy shopping!

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Learning ABC’s with Letter Tubs

A confined toddler on a tiny airplane could spell disaster.  My toddler has been on a plane four times in the last two weeks.  Luckily, half those times he was asleep.  Some of the places we have been include San Francisco, St. Louis and Miami.  My little 19 month toddler is BUSY and changing all the time.  We had to be very creative on the plane and in the airport terminals.  I packed a bag of new goodies that he hadn’t seen before and surprised him on our trips with these presents.  The LeapReader Junior was a big hit.  I also brought 5 new Matchbox cars.  I brought a old wallet and small calculator he hadn’t played with and I also brought a couple of old favorite toys, like our Ikea cars.  We made it but I’m ready for him to have his own seat.  Do you have toddler tricks for traveling?

One of our trips was to visit family, including Aunt Karen.  She is a big inspiration for this blog and a great resource for interesting challenges.  Some of her challenges to me have been to make my own laundry soap and date bars.  One this trip, I spent a day following Aunt Karen around her home learning very cool ways of staying healthy and saving money, all of which I will post about later.  Aunt Karen runs a daycare in her home and has years of practice keeping toddlers busy and learning to read.  I was very fascinated with what I call her “Letter Tubs” and plan to make some of my own.  She saved old yogurt dishes and labeled each one with a letter of the alphabet.  Then she filled each tub with tiny objects that started with the corresponding letter.  For example, the tub for “F” had a tiny fence, frogs, flowers, felt and feathers.  Each tub also had a big letter and small letter, which were usually magnet letters.  You can also make Color Tubs using the same concept.  I will post about the other activities Aunt Karen shared with me including sprouting, raising active yeast for bread, composting in the back yard, art projects, bike riding and play dough just to name a few.  Just as soon as I get back from my next trip to DC!  Any suggestions for long car trips with toddlers! 🙂

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Natural Birth Gets Coverage – Thanks Kate Middleton!

Many of you may have heard that Kate Middleton had a natural childbirth.  This has created some wonderful buzz about natural childbirth and an opportunity for some local doulas (and friends of mine) to get some local press coverage!  Check out  Kate’s choice for a drug-free birth helps open the door for dialogue about birthing options.  I was so inspired by my natural birth experience that I became a doula, or labor assistant, to help other mothers have the best birth possible.  I would like to point out that having a natural birth is actually cheaper assuming you can get coverage, but that’s another issue.  There are many resources about natural childbirth but here are just a few that I value.  What is your favorite natural birth resource?  If you don’t have one, does that mean we need more?!  Yes!  🙂

Kate Middleton



Asheboro, NC Zoo Trip

Love free family day trips?  We had a great time at the Asheboro Zoo last weekend!  Our Baby B is one and was old enough to see and enjoy most of the animals.  He smiled when the giraffes strolled around and laughed when the sea otter twirled in the water.  I really enjoyed seeing the two baby gorillas (Apollo and Bomassa) who were both born last August.  The Asheboro Zoo is about 1 1/2 hours from Charlotte or Raleigh, North Carolina but it’s worth the drive.  This zoo is very open and spacious.  There are 500 acres so there is some more walking for visitors than in a city zoo.  There is greater distance between the exhibit areas than you may be used to but this allows the animals to have large areas to roam and gives a more peaceful, natural feel to the entire park.  There are two continents that you can explore, Africa‘s grassland and North America’s Arctic coast.  You can park at either end and walk the entire park or take a tram or bus from one end to other.   We arrived at the park around noon and were able to walk the entire park before it closed at 5 pm, and that included stopping for lunch and time to play at the kids’ park.  We brought our lunch, although there were places to buy food.  I think spring is a great time to visit since it was warm but not too hot.  I recommend it for everyone!

The first animals Baby B saw were giraffes.  He loved them!









Then we saw an old elephant.









We also saw some baboons!


















We met a playful river otter.


















We made time for lots of play at the very cool kids’ park.












































































And then we met more animals!













































Just as we were leaving we saw the baby gorillas!









We had a great time and look forward to going again soon!


Meataholic’s Anonymous

Along with all the things that changed when I became pregnant and had a baby, I also began eating meat.  Prior to pregnancy, I had been a vegetarian for about 15 years.  Well, actually I was a pescatarian – someone who does not eat any meat except seafood.  It’s now 8 months post-pregnancy and I’m still eating meat, especially steak!  Is it because I’m still breastfeeding?  Is it something I’m missing, like iron, or am I just addicted?  I don’t think eating meat is necessary if you have enough protein from other sources likes legumes.  It’s probably better to have a diet of whole grains, legumes, seeds, fruits and vegetables without meat.  It seems harder, however, to make meals that contain all those types of food.  It seems easier to plan a meal around a meat.  Usually when we say we don’t have food in the house, that means we don’t have meat.  Also, I try to buy meat on sale and that usually does not include fish, which is probably the healthiest meat.  Tilapia is sometime on sale but that’s about it.  So, do I try to go back to my pescatarian ways or stay a meataholic?

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Healthy Halloween Ideas

Aunt Karen has some excellent healthy Halloween ideas.  On Halloween night she gives out small boxes of raisins or small bags of pretzels instead of candy.  (You can also trade in your candy for healthy treats at Earth Fare!)  Karen also doesn’t like to waste her pumpkins so she always cuts her pumpkins on Halloween night, just an hour or so before she wants to display it.  You can also cut it earlier and put in the refrigerator until that night.  Then, after the kids collect their candy, Karen cuts the pumpkins in half and pops them into the oven at 350 degrees for 45 min or until they get soft.  She then lets them cool and peels off the skin off.  Then she runs the pumpkins chunks through the Vitamix and freezes most of it in ice cube trays or small containers.  Some pumpkin puree can go in the fridge for the next week.  You can make soups, sauces, or mix the puree with apple sauce for a golden apple sauce!  You can also add the puree to cookie dough to make pumpkin cookies or add the puree to smoothies!  You can also leave some chunks in the fridge for salads or steam them with other veggies!  The possibilities are endless!