Friday, May 28, 2010

Imaginary play

Last week, I got out an old Little Tikes train set for my daughter to play with. It used to belong to my husband when he was little, and we came across it in my in-laws' attic recently. Now, certainly we have PLENTY of toys around these parts, but there's just something fun about bringing out something NEW (or new to her!) to play with for a while. This gives me a great chance to do some rotating of toys and put away things that she hasn't touched for a while. I can store the items in a Rubbermaid box that I think she'll likely come back to at some point, and box up the things she's grown out of to send to the attic (until we decide what the heck we're doing -- or IF we're doing -- about #2 :).

After a little washing, the train set was good as new and ready for another child... only 25 or so years after the last one. :) She played with it ALL afternoon, taking a break only for lunch and naptime. Woohoo!

Don't you just love to watch and listen to your children playing independently? Their imaginations are just hysterical! These two fellas in the train car were put there by my girl, facing each other, because "they're just talkin'." LOVE IT! :)

What are your child's favorite play activities? What funny things have you overheard your little ones saying as they make-believe?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weekly Read Wednesday: Every Year On Your Birthday

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis holds special meaning for me. It's on a high shelf in my daughter's room, only pulled down once in a while. So when I saw Every Year On Your Birthday by the same author in a bookstore a few months ago, I knew I had to read it.

For those who are not aware, I'm an adoptive mother. My daughter was not adopted internationally, as the author's daughter was, but there are still so many of the same themes in her books of the thoughts and feelings you might have as an adoptive family.

In Every Year On Your Birthday, the author remembers each of her daughter's first five birthdays, and recalls the special events that happened on each of those days.

In between, she mixes in "flashbacks" almost of where her daughter came from, what her heritage is, and the hopes she has for her daughter's first family.

As in Crazy Cakes, the last page could easily make me cry. Mom and daughter think about her first family. As a mommy through adoption, I so want my daughter to know that it's okay and good and normal to wonder about her heritage, and that it's a "safe" topic in this house. I don't ever want her to feel like she can't ask a question she has, and while hers is an open adoption, there will still be questions someday as she makes sense of everything in her own mind. I hope that reading books such as these, and just making the topic available to her, will help set the tone for future conversations, and let her know that we as her parents love her exactly the way she is, no matter what.

Monday, May 24, 2010

DIY Bible storybook

My husband had to be out of the house one evening last week, and at the end of a long day, I was a little tired and running out of ideas to entertain our daughter for the hour or so before bedtime. About three seconds after Daddy left, she was asking me to paint. And, I should mention -- she'd already had her bath, so MESSY painting was not an option. :) I tried to coax her into doing some coloring, even with stickers, but nope! It had to be painting! Here's what we came up with on the fly:

You will need:

I gave her one picture at a time, in order, and let her paint away.

What was really neat about choosing a meaningful topic (i.e., a Biblical account of creation, in this instance) was that we could discuss what each page was about. We talked about all the things that God made, and she (being the parrot of a two-year-old that she is) repeated everything. I love these little opportunities to sow seeds of truth into her mind!

I realize this picture has nothing to do with her craft, but I couldn't help adding this cuteness in! This is her little security blanket that she's long been attached to, and she kept it right next to her the whole time. So sweet... and I'm pretty sure I might cry one day to look back on the little details like this.

When your child's pictures are dry, staple them all together to make a "book." You could also punch holes in the side and thread yarn through. I considered cutting out the picture and text to glue them all onto colorful pieces of construction paper, but realistically, I know this isn't the most durable of "books," so we went for the option of conserving our resources. :) If your child creates something that you really want to save, it might not be a bad idea to have the pages laminated, or seal them onto some cardstock with clear contact paper.

The last step... read the story with your child! :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Okay, obviously there's no "weekly read" posted today... sorry about that! Just a few "extras" on this list this week (and coming up) that are keeping me busy! If my daughter is "too busy for TV," then Mommy has been/needs to be "too busy for the computer." :)

I'm hoping to get back into posting again next week, so thanks for checking back soon! :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Planting seeds

Planting... and hopefully growing! My daughter was recently given this little Sesame Street-themed planting activity. It came with everything needed for some afternoon fun!

You will need:
  • A planting kit (ours came from Lowe's and included seeds, pots, soil pellets, and little garden tools), or you can certainly just use your own seeds and pots!
  • Water
  • A bowl for mixing up the dirt
  • A tray or something else to catch water that drips through the pots

I assembled everything needed on the counter (but this would be a WONDERFUL outdoor activity!) and then called my daughter to come help do some planting. Begin by putting your soil pellets (or potting soil is just fine) in a bowl.

Add water. The directions on our kit called for two cups, and it was definitely wet enough.

Mix. Guess who LOVED this part??

Arrange your small pots on the tray.

Fill each pot halfway with soil.

This part of the activity was a hit as well!

Drop seeds in. We had bell pepper seeds. They are so tiny... I'm really hoping they grow because I love bell peppers!

It's a little messy (which is why this would be a great outdoor activity!), but not nearly as bad as you might imagine.

Finish filling the pots with the remainder of the soil to cover the seeds.

Find a sunny location to let them grow, and don't forget to water them. And since we did this activity several days ago, I can now speak from experience by telling you... watch out for wind! Unfortunately, I didn't think so much about this when I put the pots out on our sunny (and unshielded from the elements) patio table. I realized they'd blown over about two days later... boo. I'm really hoping I recovered at least some of the seeds to put into a more sturdy container!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Weekly Read Wednesday: While Mama had a Quick Little Chat

While browsing through library books recently, my eyes landed on While Mama had a Quick Little Chat by Amy Reichert. I thought it sounded interesting just from the title, so I added it to our collection that day.

The story begins with Rose, a little girl whose mama is having a "quick" chat on the phone and asks her to get ready for bed.

Sounds like a simple enough task, but strange things begin happening right away! Four muscly men knock on the door and start bringing party supplies into the house. Rose tries to tell them they aren't having a party, but the men persist.

She tries to call for her mom, but Mama is too busy! Isn't this so true from a child's perspective?

Party guests arrive...

...and then hors d'oeuvres. In all of this time, Mama hasn't noticed a THING.

The one portion of the story that I didn't love (and skipped over) was that a magician appeared at the party and asked Rose to be his assistant. The picture and text may be just a bit scary for younger children (the magician supposedly saws Rose in two and puts her back together again), but older children would certainly understand it's just a story that's been made up for fun.

Mama is FINALLY done on the phone... Rose has to quickly shoo everyone out the door!

At the end of the story, Mama is pleasantly surprised that Rose got everything done that she'd asked of her before she finished her "quick little chat," and finds her asleep in her bed.

We really enjoyed this story! I read it to my daughter many times, and would pick it up at the library again sometime!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Coffee filter butterflies

Here's a super quick craft, using a household supply almost everyone has on hand!

You will need:
  • Disposable coffee filters
  • Paints (my daughter wanted to use Do-a-Dots, but watercolors would work fabulously here!)
  • Pipe cleaners in any color (twisty ties that come in boxes of garbage bags would work here as well!)
  • Newspaper... not pictured, but I quickly discovered this was a necessity! :)

Spread out a coffee filter.

Line some newspaper underneath and let your little one paint away!

The dot paints dried VERY quickly, and we were able to make a "butterfly" using our pipe cleaners in no time at all. Just scrunch the filter up in the middle, wrap a pipe cleaner around it (you don't even need a whole one), and twist at the top for the "antennae."

Happy springtime!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Weekly Read Wednesday: Little Critter series

I love the Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer. What home library is complete without a stack of these cute stories? Since most of the Little Critter books are likely very familiar, I decided to highlight just a few pages out of some of the books.

{From Just Shopping with Mom}
Oh boy, can I relate to the mom in this story!

When the kids are trying to be helpful... well, you can see what happens!

I'm pretty sure I've had that look on my face more than a few times in a store.

{From I Was So Mad}
Little Critter tries to participate in what he thinks are totally appropriate activities, and shockingly, he gets told "No!" a lot!

When he gets fed up enough, he declares that he's running away. Do I EVER remember having the same "threat" in mind as a child! :)

Here's something I notice as a parent reading the story -- I love how the mom just waves! Of course, she knows he isn't really going to go anywhere. :)

{From Just Go To Bed}
This is another story that has taken on new meaning as a parent than it had when my own mom read this to me as a child.

I can really understand his parents' frustration by the end of the story and feel like telling my own daughter "Just go to bed!" some days!

Do you enjoy reading the Little Critter books? Which one is your favorite to share with your child?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mother's Day project: watercolor flowers

Oh, Mother's Day. Why do you always sneak up on me so quickly?

I've been in the habit for the past two years (as long as I've been a mother) of having my daughter participate -- in whatever ways she's been able -- in creating a gift for the special moms in our family. There are four that we honor each year: her two grandmas, her great-grandma, and her biological mom. (Check out my mommy blog for more if that last one threw you for a loop! :)

I love having something for each of these special moms, and I especially love that my daughter has a part in whatever we do for them. It's nothing "amazing," but it's from her, and that makes it amazing.

This is the project we completed (times four) this year. Plan ahead with this one! We worked on it a little at a time over the course of about a week.

PHASE ONE -- You will need:
  • Watercolors
  • Paper

Let your little one paint, paint, paint to their heart's content!

This was my girl's first experience with watercolors, and she L-O-V-E-D it.

My wish-I-had-thought-of-that-sooner tip? Use a clean medicine dropper to add just a tiny amount of water to each paint tin. This eliminates the need for a cup of water (if you don't mind the color mixing, which at two, is inevitable anyway) -- and the equally inevitable spillage.

Allow the masterpieces to dry. :)

When dry, cut flower shapes out of the painted papers. I used a cookie cutter, because as I've said, I'm not an artist in any way, shape, or form. If you have even a SHRED more artistic ability than I, you could very likely manage without tracing. :)

PHASE TWO -- You will need:
  • Paint samples
  • Scrap cardboard (poster board, cardstock, construction paper... it would all work. You're just looking for something a bit thicker than regular paper.)
  • Glue

Cut up some paint samples.

And have your flowers cut out and ready.

I used a scrap of cardboard I had to draw these little flower pot shapes. Yes, I actually drew these myself! Be proud! :)

Lay out some of the paint sample squares/shapes for your child to choose from...

...and have them glue the squares onto the "flower pot" to create a "mosaic" of sorts. Allow to dry. You might want to put a heavy book on top of these as well, if you're bothered by the paint samples curling up.

PHASE THREE (I told you it was a long project!) -- You will need:
  • Colorful paper
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Your pre-assembled flowers and flower pots

Cut the pipe cleaners to whatever length you want the flower stems to be and glue onto the colorful paper.

Glue flowers on the stems. Silly me... I thought this was the bottom of the flower, but my daughter decided that it was the top. Heh.

Add as many flowers as you like...

...and then glue the flower pot to the bottom of the stems.

Here's her finished projects! A "quick craft" it's not, but they're cute and something totally different from what we've done before. I mean, really... how many handprint molds can one person have? :)

I tried to snap a few pictures of her holding each one of these for each of the recipients. And, I might have mentioned... she's two. I really wish Tylenol hadn't recalled all their products last week, because I was sorely needing some medication after that experience.