Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Weekend in Blue Ridge

We are still recovering from Carson’s stay. And by recovering I mean going through withdrawals. More kids = more fun. It’s a fact. The house didn’t exactly get cleaned. The laundry absolutely did not get finished but that’s not what life is about, amirite? We had a darn good time. And now Mandie and Creighton have gone home too. Thank goodness for preschool or I fear my kids would be feeling a bit lonely. Patch and Maddy certainly thrive when they are surrounded by kids and noise and activity.

Anyway, we are still compiling our pictures of last weekend but I wanted to share a few snapshots from the weekend before last.  After soccer practice on Saturday morning Meme, Papa, the kids and I headed up to the cabin. Toby was playing a church retreat that weekend so I only saw him for about 10 seconds that morning. He woke up and whispered, “I just realized I have no idea if they have a drumset at the camp.” I laughed and rolled over. I’m a nice person but not that nice. Disassemble a drumset and load it into the back of a car at 4:30 in the morning? I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.

We had gorgeous weather all weekend. I love watching what the kids do with all the space to roam.  They ran. A lot. And Maddy randomly would walk into the woods and declare it was time to take a hike. They love spending time outdoors and enjoy every moment they share with Meme and Papa.
She just adores him, can you tell?

Checking out the turtle by the pond in the outfit Uncle Jonathan got her for her birthday

Running, running and more running.

Love Maddy's arm punch in this one.

Running to see the Beefalo (It really is beefalo and not buffalo.)

A quiet moment at the top of the hill

Yes. More running.

Afternoon banana break

The pond at night

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Project a Day - {Shaving Cream and Food Coloring}

One of the easiest activities that the kids continually enjoy is adding food coloring to shaving cream and "painting" in the bath tub. It's great for a rainy day and way easy to clean up. The other day this ended with Patrick getting out his pretend shaving kit to practice shaving. Madelyn had to try it out too, of course ;-)

And that concludes our week of projects. Hope you enjoyed them as much as we did! Stay tuned for a cousins' post. We are on the tale end of a fun filled weekend with Carson and Creighton with many pictures to share. Your turn Toby!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Project a Day - {Marshmallows + Toothpicks}

I heart Kiwi Crate! What a cool idea - to receive a box each month with materials and inspiration for hands-on activities and crafts for kids. I am dying to sign up for a subscription but we need to save a few pennies first. And I love their blog, especially Two Ingredient Tuesday, where they take two household items and make them into an easy craft or activity. Love it! 

One of the ideas we borrowed was Marshmallows + Toothpicks = Sculpture. After snack we spread out on the floor of the playroom with a bowl of marshmallows and the kids started creating. We made different shapes: rectangles, squares, circles and triangles and talked about the difference between two and three dimensions.

Once we had worked together for awhile I backed off to see what would happen next. Madelyn proved to be my daughter by shoving a marshmallow into her mouth (don't worry, we got the toothpicks out just in time).

Patrick decided it was time to build a mac truck and talked about the different ways he was going to go about building it. And the marshmallow people he would create to drive it.

It was a fun project that we will revisit again, especially when they are a little older. What a great way to introduce the concept of geometry!

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Project a Day- {Celery}

Throw some celery in a vase, add water and food coloring, and voila- science! The kids ate their way through this project. Celery +  peanut butter = happy little tummies.

Patch and Maddy enjoyed this project for days. As soon as they would wake up in the morning they would  check the mantle to see if the celery had changed color. And it added a little spring color to our house as well :-)

I  just love Patrick's little hands in this picture!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Project a Day - {Nurse Nancy}

My daughter is in love with the Golden Book, Nurse Nancy. She reads it to herself, to her dolls and to anyone else that will listen. She clutches the book in her chubby little hands and says, "I'm gonna read it this, Mommy," and "Excuse me, Daddy? Read it-ta-me, Nurse Nancy?" And, yes, we stop what we are doing and read it almost every single time. How could we not grant her sweet little request? Nurse Nancy has been re-bound with packing tape a few times. There are rips on several pages and food and water stains throughout. This book is not so gently used but loved so very much.

One day we decided to bring Nurse Nancy to life. As Madelyn and I started arranging her dolls and play medical kit on the ground Patrick walked in and asked, "Are you making a fine doll hospital?" Apparently he's read the book a few times as well...

We examined each doll; took their temperatures, blood pressures and gave them each shots (in very interesting places I might add, such as ears and eyes). They made me laugh with the names they made up for themselves. Patrick was Dr. Appointment and Madelyn was Dr. Self or Nurse Maddy at other times. Madelyn rocked each baby whispering softly, "It's OK, baby. All better." Patrick was very methodical: examine the baby, bandage the baby, give the baby a shot and put her on the sofa. I loved watching their personalities shine through as they played. And I especially loved that Patrick was happy to let Maddy take the lead in this activity and join her in taking care of the dolls.

Poor Lupita, heaven only knows what happened to her mouth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Project a Day - {Outdoor Mud Kitchen}

Who doesn't love a good old fashioned mud kitchen? Madelyn and Patrick had a blast getting wet and dirty. I found it so amusing to watch their imaginations go wild as they got creative with the resources around them. They cooked with mud, black beans, acorns, grass and weeds to make mud pies topped with acorns, mud bean and weed soup, and mud and black bean casserole.

The kids came up with a restaurant scenario where they were chefs cooking and serving food to customers. And another where they were the Mommy and Daddy making dinner for their dinosaur babies (quite interesting).

I love the mud kitchen not only because it's tons of fun for the kiddos but it's also easy to clean up. Hose the kids and the driveway down and we're good to go!

*Special thanks to Meme and Papa for the outdoor kitchenware and to Papa for fashioning a table out of an old piece of wood, a plastic garbage can and a bunch of gorilla glue!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Project a Day - {Sensory Buckets}

The situation: One child with a fever over 103 and the other seemingly headed in the same direction.

The challenge: Find quiet activities throughout the day to keep them interested and relatively still without the use of television.

The project: Sensory Buckets. I can't remember which craft blog I found this idea on but I made a note of it for a day such as this one, knowing it would be something Patch and Madelyn would enjoy.

I filled two buckets with black beans and buried small dinosaurs and frogs in each one. The kids used their hands, small cups and measuring spoons to dig in their buckets to find the animals.

Madelyn preferred to use a shot glass to scoop beans from one bucket to another, sorting animals as she found them. She lined them up neatly on the floor, counted them, then sorted them by which kind then by color. She made little families out of the group, the bigger ones were the Mommies and Daddies and the smaller ones were the babies.

Patrick predominantly used his hands to find the dinos and frogs. He made a big pile on the floor and then when he was sure he had them all, began to sort, first by which type of animal. Then he pushed the frogs to the side and concentrated on the dinosaurs. He made three groups: quadrupeds, bipeds and ones that fly. Then he put the carnivores and herbivores in two separate piles, naming each one as he picked them up. He used the magnifying glass to study each of them and then would hand it to Maddy so she could look as well. They were very cute taking turns with the magnifying glass, squealing with excitement as they observed what the dinosaurs face or tail looked like up close.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Project a Day - {Spider Webs}

Patrick is at the age where he asks to do a project almost every day. He's curious and inquisitive and wants to know how everything works. Thankfully we haven't run out of ideas yet. And thankfully, he's 3 1/2 so going on a "bug hunt" (taking a walk with a magnifying glass and a bug catcher) still qualifies as a science project. He does, however, spot the difference if I respond to his mid-morning question about what our project of the day is. If I answer color or paint he'll give an exasperated sigh and say, "No MOOOM, a project that we DO, not just color!" (Like coloring is the most. boring. thing. ever.) Maddy would disagree. She will sit and color for 20-30 minutes at a time and be perfectly content. But she also enjoys our crafts/projects just as much as Patrick. She just goes with the flow, that one. Since our lives are filled with "projects" these days - some planned, some spontaneous - I thought I'd share a couple of our recent ones and do a project-a-day post for this week.

The first one happened by chance. We had left over string from one of our Valentine's Day projects and pipe cleaners from something else and somehow the subject of spiders came up and so we made a huge spider web around the living room with little spiders that "climbed" on the web.

The kids had a blast helping wind the string around things in the room until it resembled a web then moved their spiders along it.

A few days later the weather was nice outside so we reconstructed our web on the front porch. Then we took our magnifying glass and walked around the yard looking for real spider webs.

We talked about how many legs spiders have, what they eat, how they make their webs, etc. The kids seemed to enjoy it and maybe learned a little bit too. I, for one, learned that my children have absolutely no fear of sticking their hands into a huge spider web growing in our ivy to feel around for spiders.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dance Break!

When things get tense with the littles - sharing issues, a grumpy little munchkin (or two), or just having excess energy to burn off on a cold rainy day - we have a solution. Dance. 97% of the time it works all the time. Just throw on a little latin groove and the kids go crazy banging on the djembe or jumping around in their superhero capes. Every night after dinner we have a family dance party. It sounds cheesy; and it is, but it's waaay fun, especially when the dress up bin is utilized. It's fascinating what a little music can do for the soul!

Here are some videos of the kids doing what they do best- having fun dancing their little hearts out.

This is a very short clip taken way back in December. It's one of the first times the kids tried to dance together and the first time Patrick ever tried to twirl his sister (still not sure where he learned that move). I especially love the fact that Patrick is in his underwear (not unusual. I think he spent from Nov-Jan in just his underwear. Why? We'll never know). And check out Maddy's James Brown moves near the end.

One rainy November day I pulled out our copy of Mary Poppins and let the kids watch Step in Time and Supercalifragalistic. They seriously went nuts over the songs and within days Patrick had the dance moves perfected from Step in Time. For weeks he'd ask to wear a hat and hold our little toy broom so he looked like Burt and would say, "Good luck, Guvnah" and tip his hat. This one's long, but worth it :)

This one took place while Abbie and Matt were babysitting. Abbie said they were all in the playroom playing with cars when she noticed that Madelyn had disappeared. She had retreated to the family room for a little slow dancing with Diego. I love the way she holds his hand while dancing.

Madelyn got a Wii dance game for her birthday. Patrick, Madelyn and Creighton had fun trying it out one afternoon. Patrick has got some sweet dance moves!

I received this video as a text message from Toby one morning while I was at work. I was about to go in a patient's room on the BMT unit. I won't go into details but serious things were about to take place when I got this very un-serious text message. It made me giggle. I was so thankful in that moment to be reminded of what I got to go home to after the day was over. I love that Maddy is holding her bunny's hand as she dances with her and that when the music changes to "the soldier song" they both salute and start marching.