Saturday, August 27, 2011

Note to Self: Pizza and Toddlers

Note to self:

Do not leave a warm pizza on an accessible counter with an unsupervised and hungry toddler.

This is what happens.

Spilled pizza.  Messy kitchen floor.  Hysterically laughing older brothers.  Slightly annoyed, but amused parents.  Happy toddler.

This baby loves his pizza!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cookies, Please!

At the grocery store yesterday, I quickly walked past the bakery to continue my shopping.  Normally my two older children ask to stop and get a cookie.  Because I only had Mr. Three with me, I assumed he wouldn't really care if we stopped or not.  As I continued on towards the meat department, a tiny voice sweetly said, "Cookie?"  I looked down and saw that darling chubby face and said, "What do you say?"  He answered, "Eese?"  (That's please in Mr. Three speak.)

How can you not go back to the bakery for a cookie after that?  That boy has me wrapped around his finger!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Simple Logic Game

I have about an hour to an hour and a half of time in the morning where Mr. Two and I have some one-on-one time together, during Mr. Three's nap.  I do love this little bit of time to play games and do chores together with Mr. Two.

Here's a fun little game we played this morning.  You could easily adapt this to use any small items you already have in your home.

What's in my Hand?

You will need:

two matching sets of small objects (we used turtles and frogs, but you could also use plastic dinosaurs, beads, pom poms, buttons, etc.)

a small bag to hide the objects in

Here's how you play:

First, divide your two sets of objects, placing one set in your bag and the other on your table, floor, or  wherever you are playing.

Have one person reach into the bag and choose one object to hide in their hand.  Leave the remaining objects hidden in the bag.

The other person needs to ask yes or no questions to determine which item is hiding in the other person's hand.

As each question is answered, the person asking the questions removes all of the items that are now not possibilities for what is in the other person's hand.

When the questioner has narrowed down the items to one, the answerer opens their hand and they check to see if they match.

Here's one round of play with Mr. Two to give you a better idea of how this is done.

I didn't take a picture of the group of turtles and frogs all together, but at the start of the game, Mr. Two has selected one creature, which is hiding in his hand, and the other animals are hidden in a bag.  The second set of turtles and frogs is on the couch.

Me:  Does your animal have spots?
Mr. Two:  No.
I remove all the animals with spots from the group.

Me:  Is your animal a turtle?
Mr. Two:  No.
I remove all of he turtles.

Me:  Does your frog have two colors?
Mr. Two:  Yes.
I remove all of the solid colored frogs.

Me:  Does your frog have a skinny stripe on its back?
Mr. Two:  No.
I remove the frog with the skinny black stripe.

Me:  Does your frog have blue on it?
Mr. Two:  Yes.
This narrows it down to one frog.  We check to see if this is the same frog Mr. Two has in his hand.

We made a match!  Now we can switch roles and play again.

You can increase or decrease the level of difficulty by controlling the number of objects you are using.  You could either use like or not alike items in your sets.  You could make sets with only plastic dinosaurs, or you may have many different small plastic items in your sets, such as beads, farm animals, wiggle eyes, pom poms, and dinosaurs.

For very young children, you will want to use items that only have one or two differences to make the questioning easier for them to begin.  (Example:  you could use colored bears that are large and small, so they would only have to ask about color and size, instead of being overwhelmed with too many variables.)

Have fun building logic skills through play!

* Linking here and here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Color Sorting Mat

When I saw this mat on Frugal Family Fun Blog, I knew I wanted to make something similar.

Here's what I came up with:

Fold-up Color Sorting Mat with Pocket

I found fat quarters in the basic colors and cut 6" squares of each of the 10 colors.  I sandwiched in a layer of felt between the muslin backing to give it a little more structure, and added a simple side pocket and ribbon closure.

It folds and ties for easy storing and carrying.

I love the pocket at the end to store sorting treasures.  I think when I make another, I'll opt for a full zipper instead of velcro.  If I post a full tutorial, I'll be changing that.

Mr. One had a good time sorting beads on our new mat.

My boys had fun sorting our tub of frogs and turtles using the mat as well.

Have fun sorting!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Day(s) of School

School is back in full swing here now.  Mr. One is now a first grader and Mr. Two is in preschool.

The boys started school on different days, so we got to have two first days.

They are both loving their teachers and making new friends.

Here is how I was greeted on the morning of Mr. One's first day of school. 

I have some very creative dressers on my hands. 



Luckily, it didn't take too much convincing to get at least Mr. One in more school appropriate attire. (Don't you love how Mr. Three had to get in on the photo taking session as well?)

I'm so relieved he still lets me pick out his clothes.  I realize that this will not last.  He is just so handsome in his preppy clothes and Cars backpack.  This kid is growing up so fast, I can hardly stand it.  I can still see my big eyed, chubby cheeked babe in his face sometimes, but the cheeks are melting away to reveal a more mature little boy, who pays more attention to the world around him.  Maybe a little too much attention...

After his first day, Mr. One said his day was, "Awesome!"  He truly loves school.  I hope he keeps that enthusiasm.

He has several friends from kindergarten in his room and a wonderful teacher.  I taught 3 of her 4 children in kindergarten, and she was my aide in the morning the last year that I taught.  She then started teaching full time the year I left to stay home.  It has been fun to see the tables turn and to be able to help her out this time around, as she was an amazing support for me when I taught. 
Mr. Two took a little more convincing to get excited about preschool. 

Even though he talked excitedly about going to preschool all the previous week, I had to nearly drag him into the classroom at the beginning of the day.  When I picked him up, he was all smiles in the room, but grumpy in the car.  He was upset with me because he didn't get to eat lunch in the cafeteria (they eat their lunches in the classroom as part of the program).  I mistakenly told him he would be eating a cafeteria lunch at school, so naturally, he figured they'd eat it in the cafeteria.  My bad.  Overall, he said he had a good day, and decided to keep going, even though he didn't like all the singing.

The only item Mr. Two requested for "school supplies" was a Mater water bottle.  If that's all it takes, he can have it!  He was so excited to go to Target and pick one out.  Simple pleasures.

Mr. Three and I have a little stretch of time alone together.  He is a little confused sometimes that his brothers aren't around.  When we went over to my parents' house after dropping Mr. Two off at school, my mom jokingly asked Mr. Three where his brothers were.  He started wandering around the house looking for them, then getting confused when he couldn't find them.  It will be nice to have some one-on-one time together and errand running will be much quicker with only one person to strap into a car seat!

Happy new school year to all!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Vacation 2011: Car Day

Friday was Car Day.  We started off the morning visiting the auto mechanic shop that is literally across the street from Joe and Jenny's house.  The mechanics there love Cate and they revved up an engine for us and chatted.  My boys loved looking around in the shop.  Like Doc's shop from Cars! 

We drove into L.A. to go to the Petersen Automotive Museum.  Can I just say my boys (all four of them) were in heaven?!  So many cars, so little time to drool...

We arrived later than we originally planned, at about 11:00am.  L.A. traffic is no joke!  There were so many cars and exhibits to explore.  The boys were completely mesmorized and I was a bit surprised at how well behaved they were with all the looking and no touching.  It helped that there was an escalator and an elevator and few people inside so they had a wider area to explore under our supervision.

There is a classic car area at the beginning of the museum that takes you through a history of the automobile, with lots of vintage automobiles and a Southern California streetscape.

We saw lots of super cars.

I would like one of these please!

This photo is for Clayton, the Lamborghini Countach.

Mike would like this one under the tree from Santa...

We even saw one of Elvis's cars that he shot in frustration.  The bullet holes are still there.

There is a whole Hollywood exhibit with famous cars from films.

A car from The Great Race.  Classic car movie.

Of course, one of the Batmobiles.

We even saw the Speed Racer, but somehow forgot to snap a picture of it.   

There were lots of motocycles and scooters.

Then there was the Hot Wheels exhibit. 

All time seemed to stand still for a bit while the adult boys reminisced about past cars and childhood adventures, and the little boys dreamed of playing with all of the cars. 

They had every model ever made from the beginning of Hot Wheels on display (not every paint job, but every model).  They had some molds that were used to cast the cars and videos showing the process. 

The boys were mesmorized by the giant tire track in the entrance that lit up and had hundreds of cars adhered to the tracks. 

After peeling the boys away from the Hot Wheels, we headed back downstairs to Johnny Rockets.  It was perfect to have a diner inside the museum.  With the weather so beautiful, we ate outside.  This is a great choice for families.  The prices were reasonable, and what kid doesn't love diner fare?  Hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, fries and shakes all around!

Hmm... What to get...


Peanut butter fudge shake heaven!

Mr. Three is plain worn out with all this eating and looking at cars.

With everyone happy and fed again, we ventured to the third floor of the museum with the kids' exhibits. 

There was a police motorcycle to sit on (we all had to have a turn), hot wheel and pinewood derby tracks, and other interactive opportunities.

Mr. One and Mr. Two loved putting on a helmet and riding in a real race car.  Mr. One sat in this a long time, dreaming of racing on a track. 

Mr. Three liked the mini fire engine, but wouldn't stay sitting for a photo once he discovered the bell in the front. 

There were markers to color on the walls, toy cars to play with, and car books to read.  This was the perfect last stop for our car day.

Reluctantly, we gathered the worn out, but happy children and got a quick souvenir (a flat penny with the museum name and a car or motorcycle imprinted) and a promise to let them choose a Hot Wheel at the nearby Target. 

They slumbered, dreaming of roads and speed as we navigated the thick L.A. rush hour traffic to get back.

That evening, after our Target stop, all of Mike's family that are in California came over to celebrate Cate's 2nd birthday with a pizza dinner at the park, singing and presents, with cupcakes afterwards.  Joe and Jenny even found Cars cupcakes, so my boys were beyond happy.  It was fun to have everyone together and to visit some more.

The next morning, we packed up and headed for hot Arizona again, thankful for a fun vacation with family and the memories we were able to create together.  We are so blessed to have family that graciously welcomes us to stay and for the good times we always have.

Summer Vacation 2011: Kickin' it in LaVerne

On Thursday, we drove to stay with Mike's brother and sister-in-law, Joe and Jenny and their cute Cate.  We stopped for McDonald's on the way and they gave us "girl toys" in the boys' happy meals.  Big disappointment.  Apparently they ran out of the Star Wars toys.  We were told we could exchange their toys at any other McDonald's.  Out with Strawberry Shortcake and in with Smurfs.  What's up with the 80's revival kid stuff?

When we got to Joe and Jenny's we went to a nearby splash pad/park and let the kids play.  What little boy can resist riding a shark?!

 They loved getting wet and running about with their little cousin. 

All bundled up and drying off.  I love this shot.

The boys also had fun in Joe and Jenny's back yard, playing with the water and sand toys. 

My sister in law is so good at finding inexpensive things and using them for play.  She is also a talented thrift/consigment/yard sale hunter.  I'm a little jealous of her great finds!  Great tip:  Buy big paint brushes at the dollar store and let the kids paint with water outside.  They loved doing this, and using the big "real" brushes was better fun than the wimpy watercolor brushes I gave them at our house to paint the sidewalk with.

We had a quiet dinner and then put the kiddos to bed so the adults could stay up and play games.  We had so much fun laughing and playing Blokus and Quiddler, staying up a little too late.  At least the kids were better rested for the next big day of fun!