Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yarn Along

I am excited to participate in my first Yarn Along Wednesday at over at small things.  I LOVE this idea!  One picture: what you're knitting and what you're reading.

I am close to finishing a pair of socks for my husband (aka bigfoot) for Christmas.  They WILL get done!  And I am reading Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon.  Still reading it.  I've been reading it for months now.  It's just not as exciting for me as Outlander was.  Hopefully I'll be able to finish soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pinecone Ornaments

As part of our Advent calendar, last night we made ornaments for our Christmas tree.  I was inspired by these pinecone ornaments over at The Magic Onions.  I was all out of broken crayons, and thought using beeswax would be nice, but as I thought about it more, I wasn't sure I wanted a 2 1/2 year old playing with hot wax. 

I scored on some pinecones at the thrift store this past weekend and knew we were still doing to do a pinecone ornament.  I know, I know, I live half an hour from the mountains and I could have gone out and picked my own pinecones.  But.  I've been feeling lazy, and these pinecones already had been drilled and wire hooks added!  Sweet!

We decided to make our pinecones a little sparkly.  We painted them with glue and then added glitter.  E loves any craft where Mama gets out the glitter!

This Year's Advent Calendar

You might remember our advent calendar from last year.  We are using the same one again this year, but I have changed it up a little bit.

I decided to hang the whole thing up this year, and I hung it on the wall in our kitchen/dining room.  Last year it was up on the back of my kitchen cabinets and it was too high for E to notice all the time.  Now it's right at eye level.  And to keep track of which day we are on (and to show E how many days we have left until Christmas when she asks for the 47th time today) I hot glued a red pom pom to another clothespin. 

A lot of our activities are the same as last year, but we have some new ones, too!  Yesterday we made our own Christmas tree ornaments - a tradition from my family growing up that I was excited to share with E.  We got bundled up and went to a parade in the dark; all the floats were decorated in lights!  We have a couple of Christmas crafts coming up as well.  I got a beeswax candle kit and one of our crafts will be to make the white Christmas candle for our Advent wreath.

We are doing a Jesse tree this year as well.  I am really liking reading scripture together as a family after dinner each night, and E is excited to hang the ornaments on our little tree.

Happy Advent to all of you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fashion

Before I had a child, I would see kids in horribly mismatched clothing and think that their Dads must have dressed them.  And my child was never going out in public wearing mismatched clothes (or clothes with chocolate milk and ketchup on them, or even pajamas for that matter)!  Ummm.  Yes.  Well, I try to make sure she's not covered in the remnants of breakfast or lunch before we go out.  But the other two?  Eh.  Who cares!   And so I give you a dose of some toddler fashion.

Along with declaring it pajama year, E has expressed a great interest in hats.

This white sunhat is her "bonnet" and of course it goes perfectly with the zebra tutu and striped sweater.  All stripes match each other, didn't you know?  And the mittens are just the thing when one is reading about the Three Little Kittens.  That way you can share with them.  And maybe you can all have pie.

Of course, you must always carry around your extra hats, because you never know when you will need to change your head-gear.

Like for nap time.  One must always wear a different hat to bed than the one that was worn for playtime.  I think it's a unwritten rule, or something.

Here's to tots picking out their OWN clothing!!  :)

My Nemesis (Maybe TMI??)

Ha!  No, really, potty training is seriously my nemesis.  And I'm putting this out there in hopes that someone may have had the same problems that I am currently having.  And maybe you can give me some advice!

We have been in potty training limbo for almost a year now!  And it isn't getting any better.  E mostly refuses to go in a diaper, makes a HUGE fuss anytime I ask her if she has to go potty or tell her it's time to go potty, and ends up wetting her underwear all day long. 

I've tried incentives, I've tried taking away toys when she wets her pants.  I've tried a potty schedule.  I've tried to just ignore it and put up with the wet underwear all day, but it really annoys me!

I've even put her back in diapers for a couple of weeks to try and "reset."  She loves our diapers - we use cloth and I made pretty ones with hello kitty and owls and all kinds of patterns.  But now her "diaper butt" is too big to fit under her clothes, and I don't think wearing diapers should be something she likes at this point.  Spending money on disposable diapers when I have perfectly good cloth ones makes me cringe.

And even when she's in diapers, she won't tell me when she has wet them.

At this point, I'm not sure if she's just being stubborn, is getting too involved in her play to bother going to the bathroom, or if she truly doesn't know when she has to go.  I should mention that she has had surgery dealing with her urinary tract system about a year and a half ago.  But I've mentioned my concerns to her urologist and he puts it all off on her age, not anything wrong with her system.

Any advice from one mom to another?
Thanks for letting me make my mini-rant!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What's on the Shelf?

As promised, here are the new activities out for E on her practical life shelf right now.

I switched up her pouring and used some of the red (orange) lentils and black beans from last month's sensory box.  I'm sure she's ready to try water pouring, but until she starts really paying attention to what she's doing with it, I'm not ready to try it on the school shelves.

Next to dry pouring is her spooning work: glass pebbles into a butterfly-shaped candy mold.  Which E, often as not, chooses to use her fingers instead of the spoon.

I pulled out an old activity that we haven't used for quite a while: sponging water!  E loves this activity, and will work happily with it for 20 minutes or so.  And she's gotten much better about not dripping water everywhere, so I'm happy.

On the bottom shelf, I FINALLY found a cheap appetizer tray with four sections to use for sorting.  Seriously, I don't know why this was so hard for me to find!  Last week, we dyed four different shapes of pasta into four different colors.  So her sorting can be done by color or by shape.

Next to the sorting work are our pumpkin life cycle three part cards.  I saw a neat tray/box for three part cards at Montessori Services - it had separate sections for the three sizes of cards.  I'm wondering if there is a way I could DIY it at home, it would be helpful to not have them sliding all over the tray all the time.

I also changed up our language shelf.  Nothing big over here, I just swap the letters out every week or so.  On the top shelf, we have our begining sound sort.  Right now E is working with /n/ and /k/. 

Our BOB alphabet books are on the top shelf as well, and I have the specific books with /n/ and /k/ out on top of the box.  E is always welcome to  take more books out of the box, but I like to put the letters we are working with on top for easy access.

Our Laurie CVC puzzles are on the middle shelf.  E loves these things!  I have eight different puzzles.  Right now, I try to put out ones that have no letters in common.  We talk about begining and ending sounds and she has to match the word to the picture.

Not pictured, but next to the CVC puzzles is our sand tray.  Right now, I will write a letter, and I have E trace it after me.  She wants so badly to learn to write her name, I thought this was a good first step.
On the bottom shelf is our alphabet puzzle.  I have a couple of different puzzles that deal with alphabetical order, and I rotate them to keep up her interest. 

Also on the bottom shelf, we have our geometric tile pictures.  These are another favorite and right now they get used almost every day.

I'll try to remember to post pictures again when I change out the shelf activities in a few weeks!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Musical Munchkin

 Are we ready to start piano lessons yet??? 

How about violin??  (although E tells me all the time she wants to play the flute like Mommy.)

playing "violin" with two of the brown stair blocks
I wonder if there are any good suzuki schools around here.  I can for sure do piano, but violin is a bit beyond me.

School this past week . . . or two . . . or three

Whew!  I took a bit of a break there!  Life has been getting a bit hectic, trying to fit in my work, E's school, housecleaning, and holiday crafting!!  I'm still feeling the pressure, so I probably won't be posting quite as much as we head into the holidays, but I'm going to try to get some school posts in here and there.  We ARE doing school time - 2 to 3 days a week.  I'm trying hard to keep 2 days with our Montessori work, the third day is often baking, nature walks, and art projects.  Another day in the week we have MOPS, our moppettes program is awesome, they really do some good "bible school" type work with the kiddos.

Anyhow, last week we had "pajama school!"  Every morning E woke up and wanted to do school work but would not get out of her jammies.  Isn't it great to be home and not have to put on real clothes until you want to?

Tuesday was an awesome day all around. I went to take a shower and when I came out, E was already hard at work with the continents map.

She also made up her own extension for the shape stacker.
I finally got around to printing out the pumpkin life cycle three part cards.  And I thought I would give it a go using the words as well as the pictures this time.  E really enjoyed the work.  I was pleasantly surprised that she was able to match most of the words on her own.  She got triped up on "seed" and "seedling" - I think that one was the only one she didn't self-correct. 

We also put together a pumpkin life cycle on a paper plate.  I got this printable from  A to Z teacher stuff, it includes a lesson plan (more for older kids) and these lift-the-flap type coloring pictures.  I had E match the words on this as well, first I wrote the word on the paper plate, then I had her find the coloring picture that matched and glue it on top of the word I wrote.

Other work E did this week included the sandpaper numbers (she traced them all and helped me put them back in the correct order), and the brown stair.  After she built the stair correctly on her own, I showed her how to match the pink tower cubes up to it.  E thought this was the coolest thing ever!  I just love the enthusiasm of the preschool set!

I'm currently (well as soon as I get off the computer) switching out practical life and language activities in the school room.  I'll have a post up on what's out as soon as I finish. 

Linking this post up to Montessori Monday at One Hook Wonder.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Letter L

We had so much fun with our letter L activities last week, we decided to continue with them this week.  We went for a nature walk and collected the first fall leaves of the season.  You have to grab them fast around here!  One day they're green, the next they're yellow, and the third day the wind has been blowing and they're all gone from the tree!

E helped me press the leaves (very carefully) with the iron, and then we strung them up into buntings for our windows.

We also did a falling leaves craft a la No Time for Flashcards (can you tell what my favorite go-to website for kids crafts is??)  I traced some of our fall cookie cutters for the leaves and let E paint them. 

Once the paint was dry, I cut them out and we glued them on a construction paper spiral.  It looks so neat hanging in our dining room, and it spins around when the wind blows throught the window.

I wanted to get to a couple more leaf activities, but there weren't enough leaves yet.  Perhaps this week we'll be able to get a few purple ash and maybe our maple tree will start turning!

As far as Montessori activities go, this was not an outstanding week.  E did not have much interest in doing work in the schoolroom.  She did decide to do some work with the geometric tiles and geometric solids.  I think one day she spent 40 minutes on one picture, putting tiles on and taking them off again.

She also figured out how to make the tiles stand up on the table, very exciting!

Linking up to Toddler Tuesday and Tot School.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Christmas Crafting in Progress!

I finally got to the craft store to pick up the yards and yards of felt I need for all of E's Christmas presents.  Can I just say right now that I LOVE felt?  Especially wool felt, but even the Eco-recycled stuff is good.  No finishing seams or hemming, no applique, and it stands up to play pretty darn well.  I've been working for the past two naptimes on E's card table playhouse.  I am discovering that our card table is pretty much on the tiny side - but I still think it's going to work out OK.  I am pretty much done with the front side.

There is the obvious, um, a door to get in and out, a plant (stuffed, and I plan to make flowers she can stick on it as well), and a mail box (the door opens and she will be able to drop mail into the house through the slot).  I also sewed a few "bricks" on there for ambiance.  All that is left is the edging for the top and to back it.  Not too bad for a couple hours work!

Other sides of the house will be a garden with an apple tree, a birdhouse, and at least one window.  Gotta have some light and air in that house, ya know?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We Play: Pumpkin Spice Playdough

I finally got to making up a new batch of playdough for E last week.  We had been using the crumbs leftover from E's birthday party, um, 10 months ago.  Pathetic?  Yes.  And it was just the storebought stuff.  I made up a batch using my favorite playdough recipe, colored it orange, and added a little pumpkin pie spice.  Mmmmmm!  This stuff smells amazing!  I set out the playdough in a plastic container, along with a couple of pumpkin cookie cutters.  The first day I put it out, E played with it for an hour straight!  Ahhh, the peace of a child playing contentedly!  :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Freezer Cooking Resources

Recently, I've been asked a lot about my freezer cooking.  I LOVE how easy it makes my days.  I've had several questions about how it all works and I thought I'd write about a couple of good resources for freezer cooking that I have found.

Freezer cooking, once a month cooking, whatever you want to call it, is where you prepare meals in advance, freeze them, and they are ready to pull out and reheat when you need them.  With a busy 2 year old running around, and the fact that I work part time a few nights a week, means that I really appreciate NOT having to chop veggies or brown ground beef every night.  My husband (bless his heart) is also NOT a chef of any kind.  In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion he's actually afraid of my kitchen.  So I can't count on him to whip up a meal when I'm tired or at work for the evening.  Enter freezer cooking.  I plan and spend one day each month or so (usually about every 5-6 weeks) cooking ALL. DAY. LONG.  When I am done, I have a whole month's worth of meals in my freezer, ready to be reheated for a quick dinner.

I started freezer cooking with 30 Day Gourmet.  I like this method because it's very organized.  I got the book from my library and in the back are all kinds of worksheets and spreadsheets.  Worksheets make me happy.  There are also a lot of recipes online on their website.  I don't like this method because the recipes are not particularly healthy - heavy on "cream-of" soups and breadcrumbs.

I found a couple more books for freezer cooking by some local authors:
Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer.  I like this method because the recipes are healthier, and a bit more adventurous than plain old casseroles.  Things I don't like about it are that I've found some of the recipes don't really reheat all that well.

Most recently, I found, and I am really liking it.  The recipes are pretty healthy (with a few tweaks of my own) and easy to prepare.  I LOVE that all the planning work is done for me!  Every month there is a new menu with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The grocery list is done for me and the "game plan" so I know who needs to do what on our big cooking day (I usually cook with a friend).  The only thing I found is that the grocery list seemed to be off for this month.  We ended up with 2 huge bags of cheese left over and didn't have enough green chilis.  I think I'll do my own grocery list for next month.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Letter L Day

We had such a busy week this past week.  It always gets like that the week before I do my freezer cooking.  More on that later, but needless to say, not a lot of Montessori work got done.  We did have one good morning of work before we had to rush off to the library and dance class on Friday.  The highlight of E's Montessori work this week was all of the knobbed and knobbless cylinder work she chose to do.  I finally got around to making some cards for the knobless cylinders, and she really enjoyed using them. 

Our really fun day was Thursday, when we hosted another of our "Letter Playdates."  This week was Letter L.  We read Is Your Mama A Llama? by Deborah Guarino.  Then we moved to the kitchen to make our fridge letters.  I had a few options for the kiddos this time around:  leaf stickers, fabric leaves to glue on, or real leaves (from last year that I saved) to crumble over the glue.  I think ALL of the kiddos chose leaf stickers.  Their Letter L for Leaves turned out really nice!  And I was impressed that all the "big" girls could peel the backs of their own stickers. 

Then, for snacktime, we enjoyed some lovely "L" treats: lemon bread/cake, longjohns, and ladybugs!  E and I assembled the ladybugs the morning of the playdate out of strawberries, grapes, and mini chocolate chips.  They turned out really cute and E had a lot of fun making them! 

I am going to continue our letter L theme into this week with a few more L books (Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney and Leaf Man by Lois Elhert).  We are going to do a nature-collecting walk to get some leaves, and hopefully we will make our own leaf pictures like the Leaf Man book.  Has anyone done leaf preserving with Mod Podge?  I tried contact paper last year and wasn't impressed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday's Book Basket

Ok, so I'm posting this a bit late this week, but I haven't done one the past couple of weeks and we read a few really neat books that I wanted to share with you!

We love Jan Brett books around here.  I had a few when I was little and my Mom got some for E a while back.  This week we read Annie and the Wild Animals.  Annie can't find her cat anywhere, so she is looking for a new pet.  She makes corn cakes and leaves them at the edge of the forest.  A moose, a bear, and other forest animals come to eat the corn cakes, but Annie doesn't want them for a pet.  E loved this story.  She kept asking to read about the corn cakes.  Jan Brett uses the border illustrations to tell you what is coming up next, so I showed that to E and tried to get her to guess what animal Annie would meet next.

Another favorite this week was Max's Dragon by Kate Banks.  Max is looking for rhyming words, which E loves to do.  His wagon becomes his dragon and then it takes of into the sky as a cloud.  After reading this book we went outside and looked at the clouds.  Finding pictures in the clouds is a fun activity that really helps to develop imagination.  After that, E has been finding pictures in everything: leaves, her dinner, dust bunnies . . .

The last book I have to share with you is There Was an Old Monster by Rebecca and Adrian Emberly.  This is such a cute book, in the style of "There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly."  E wasn't sure she wanted to read a monster book, but once we got going and read about how she swallowed ants that had him "dancing in his pants" she was hooked.  I think there is a musical version of this book as well, but we haven't checked it out yet.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Trip to the Farm

Last week we got to make our first (of several, hopefully) trip of the season to a farm.  The farm we visited was definitely geared toward children - there were lots of kids activities, not a lot of pumpkin picking or produce.  We went with my mom's group; and since the farm is in Grandma's town, Grandma got to come too!

There were goats, sheep, and a llama or two to feed

Giant legos to build with

A huge chicken coop - turned corn crib to play in

Swings of all kinds and a kid-friendly zip line

A hay-bale maze to play in, with bridges to cross

Hammocks to laze in

And LOTS of other animals: turkeys, chickens, pigs, donkeys, horses, and cows!

E had such fun playing at the farm with her friends!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We Play: Little People

I recently re-organized our toys and ended up bringing some of E's Little People up to our living room.  This has ended up making them her most-played-with toys.  And the best part about it is that she is starting to play with them independantly.  I still get constantly baraged with "Mommy, play with you [me]" requests, but now when I tell her to go play on her own for a little while, she will usually pull out some Little People.  Or sit and pout on the couch.  It's not all roses around here!  :)

She likes to line them up and create scenes with the Little People.  I thought that was only something little boys did with their trucks.  Nope, little girls get in on the action with doll figures!  It's that "sensitive period for order" I keep reading about in my Montessori books.

The other day she got out Noah's Ark and had a grand time pretending that Noah and Mrs. Noah were the Mommy and Daddy and they went on vacation in their boat with all their animal children.  The great part about this was that it was all initiated by E.  I loved how she got out a playsilk and used that for the water! 

Happy Playing!