I enjoy having Natalie in the kitchen with me. The first time we experimented with baby gates, I put one up between the living room and the dining room, and her cries of protest made me sad. It feels right to have my little one playing near me when I'm making meals. That being said, I needed something to keep her out from under my feet. Thanks to good advice from friends, I created a drawer just for Natalie. In it, she finds mini pots and pans with other cooking tools, plus some wooden fruit.
It warms my heart to see her rummaging through the drawer, and it makes me even more proud to see her stirring her string of beads in the little pot! Just like mama... well, not the beads part...
Natalie has pretty much always been attracted to pens and pencils. Until recently, she's mostly just chewed on them. Now, one of her favorite things to do is use said writing implements to scribble on whatever she can. Through trial and error (lots of error), I've created a setup that works for both of us.
I now know to not leave pencils or pens lying around -- she's left her mark on our kitchen drawers and on the refrigerator at the church office. I also have to watch her rather carefully because she still loves to chew on writing implements.