Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Story Play: Fly It! Up, Up, and Away

At a trip to the library recently, we discovered the book Fly-It! Up, Up, and Away.  Its part of a Berenstain Bears series called "First Time Do It! Books".  It is a great story about inventions and how the bears create balloon powered paper airplane inventions.   Because it included instructions to create the balloon-airplanes, it allowed us to play with the story without me having to come up with the activity!

Launching our flyer from the playset:

In Flight:

Its worth looking for this series at your local library as we really enjoyed it!

(This post contains affiliate links to Amazon)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Growing Garden Update

The garden is doing well.  I've picked cilantro a handful of times for recipes.  I also picked the first zuchinni the other day, with another ready soon.  The last of the peas also were ready this week.  The cucumber and squash plants are still blooming.  We have at least a dozen large tomatoes and another dozen cherry tomatoes that are slowly ripening.

A few of the green bean plants are still blooming.  The rest only produced about a handful of beans together.  Thankfully our wonderful neighbor has brought me 3 bags of beans over the past few weeks.  She mentioned she's canned over 60 quarts of green beans and asked if I minded taking some.  Well, yes of course!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Homemade Sidewalk Paint -- the fun is in the mess

We've had a sidewalk paint set since Easter -- store bought -- that my son uses for his "painting rock" in the backyard (a large rock near his play set with a flat top and front).  I've wanted to use the paint for other projects outside but it was expensive and running low so we found other things to do.

Then I found homemade sidewalk paint recipes on Northern Cheapskate.  I made the no cook version listed since it was quick.  I'd intended for us to paint tracks so we brought a bunch of trucks, cars, and other vehicles outside along with the paint and containers of water to wash the vehicles.  I also brought a large pad of paper in case the paint worked better on it.

Well, the fun was in the mess! The trucks and tracks were great at first.

Then a foot went in the paint :)  Soon the paint was spilled and footprints were everywhere. 

(and this was only one kid, I can't imagine if you had three or four little ones trying this!)

Then this momma joined in the fun!

I was quite thankful there is only linoleum from the garage to the downstairs bathroom where my son cleaned up in the shower -- he was covered!  It was messy fun!

My only minor complaint is that it doesn't wash off with just rain.  So if you live somewhere where neighbors might comment about bright stains on your driveway (and not on a gravelly road like us), plan on washing it off with water from your garden hose before going inside :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Story Play: Little Blue Truck

As I mentioned before, my son loved playing with stories in the Early Childhood class we went to this past spring. Here's our first attempt of it at home.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle is a favorite book in our house.  Putting together a set of toys for playing with this story was relatively easy as my son already had a dump truck and farm animals.  It took some looking to find a blue truck to use.  We also didn't have the duck or chicken in the story so I color copied an illustration and laminated them to use in our play.  We did this activity outside in the sandbox so we could make a big puddle for the story.

It was fun to work with my son to step through the story and figure out the order the other characters meet the Little Blue Truck.  He also was quite serious about the creation of the road in the sandbox for Blue to drive on.  Since he knows the story so well, at times he tended to "cruise" ahead of where I was reading and start the next part of the story.  Other times, he came over and studied the illustrations to see if he had it set up the same.

After the story all the animals decided to play in the "mud" which was just as much fun :)

In total, we read the story twice outside and then read/played it again inside in the evening.   This activity was a big hit on the Gravelly Road!

(This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Printmaking with Foam Stickers

I've seen lots of cute ideas for doing printmaking with kids.  I had planned on doing one that involved drawing your design on the "printing plate" with Elmer's glue.  I changed my mind last minute because my son did not seem to be in a patient mood at the time, and I knew the waiting for the glue to dry to finish later was not going to go over well.

Instead, we made our designs with foam stickers and they turned out great!!

First, we decorated small sheets of paper with our foam stickers to be our "printing plates".

Then we covered them with paint (using a small paint roller worked well).

We placed the painted design on our paper.

Then we carefully peeled off the "printing plate" to reveal the design.

Then we repeated the process with another color of paint.  My son really liked the idea that he could print the design he made with different colors.  (The third and fourth uses of the same "printing plate" though tended to result in wet flimsy paper and a dark brownish/black paint color since we didn't wait for it to dry in between)

Things I'd do differently next time:
* Use a thicker paper for the "printing plate", maybe even light weight cardboard (from a cereal box etc) to make the printing easier.
* Use even smaller "printing plate" sheets to help keep the designs simpler and allow for more printing.

We did try one with our letter foam stickers but were limited on what we could spell since the letters would print mirror images.  "MOM" works well :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Love of Books (part two)

Last week I posted about encouraging my son's love of books (a link to the previous post).

More important than a love of reading though, I want to encourage him to love The Book -- God's Word.  We often read Bible stories together -- his current favorite is Daniel in the Lion's Den.   I'm still looking for a good children's Bible, as right now he just has a board book version and then several books with collections of Bible stories.  I've been looking at the "Jesus Storybook Bible" as I've heard good things about it.  I haven't purchased it yet though as our local Christian bookstore didn't have it in stock last time I was there, and I'd like to read some of it before buying. 

The "collection" books we have that we both love are Read-Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall -- the illustrations are amazing and the text is perfect for being read aloud (as is the intent). They also have a "what did you learn" section after each story.   We only have the first two volumes but I'm hoping to continue to add to the collection.

I'm continuing to work at being consistent at reading my own Bible in the morning.  My favorite mornings are when my son gets up just as I've finishing my Bible study, crawls into my lap, asks me to read, and we read God's Word together.  Sometimes its a story he already knows about like Moses, David and Goliath, or something from Psalms or the gospels. We've also started keeping his current children's Bible in the kitchen, easily accessible for an after meal story (or sometimes I read it while he finishes eating as he takes much longer than I do).

Another fun resource I found is the ABC Printable Scripture Cards at icanteachmychild.com.  I've created our set (printed, lamenated, binder clip and even ribbon) before Christmas and added it to my son's stocking.  While working on this post, I realized I haven't gotten them out in a while.  Off to search for them...

How do you help incorporate God's Word into your children's lives?   Do you have a favorite children's Bible? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cabin Picture Overload :)

As I mentioned in my last post, we had a wonderful weekend at the cabin.  Great food, time to relax, geocaching, games, walks, a boat ride, swimming, time at the beach, a campfire, and playing outside filled up our weekend with great memories and time spent together.  Here's some of my favs from the weekend:

Fun on the boatride

Swimming in the pool

Campfire and s'mores

Beautiful sunsets

Monday, July 16, 2012

On the trails together...

We spent a wonderful weekend at a cabin with my family.  One afternoon, my husband and I got a chance to ride ATV on trails nearby, just the two of us, while our son spent special time with his grandparents, aunt and uncle. 

Riding ATV is not a past time I would have chosen on my own, but its something my husband loves to do and I enjoy it with him.  This was my view most of the day:
(my husband is in orange in front of me)

Some may not like following all day but I've learned its the best place for me to be when we are on the trails.  My husband has a better instinct than I do on how to take on the rocky hills and water hazards (though at water hazards his goal is usually how much can he drive through without getting stuck, where as I try not to get soaked).   Plus he knows the trails much better than I do.  He does a good job keeping track of where we are and how to get back to our vehicle!

For him, one of the benefits of riding with someone who takes her time and drives around water hazards whenever possible, is having someone there to help pull him out.  (Of course he could have gotten out on his own, but not without stepping into the more than knee deep water)

After a full afternoon of riding, mud, and dust, our path back to our vehicle led us through a ditch.  While not my favorite place to ride, I immediately noticed all the wildflowers.  I slowed.  Then I stopped.  As I got out, my husband called back asking if I was ok.  I told him I was fine, just stopping for some flowers.  What does he do?  Give me a hard time?  Nope.  He gets off his ATV calling out "I'll get you a few of the yellow ones from over here!"  Love it!

The day reminded me of so many great blessings in our marriage.  In life my husband is a "jump in with two feet" type of person (or drive in with all four wheels), while I prefer to hang back consider my options.  We've found that we balance each other out well in marriage in this regard.  He encourages me forward when the unknown makes me nervous, and I help him remember to look before jumping/driving in.  Either way, we can count on each other to help when we seem stuck in the mud. 

Spending an afternoon driving trails in the mud together was a favorite memory for him of the weekend.  I can't help but smile when I think of him helping put together our bouquet of wild flowers.  I'm so thankful to have him beside me as we travel life's trails (and trials) and the afternoon on the trails was certainly a great way to be reminded of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Oh those chipmunks...

We were looking out the window last night, wondering what the dog was chasing (and barking at). 

Son: "Mom, I think its a chipmunk.  I like chipmunks.  But one day I met chipmunks name Nae, Pop and Nommy and they ate my shirt all gone.  And then I put a new shirt on and they ate that one.  And another one too.  They really wanted me to wear no shirt.  So then I went to the store and got a jail and trapped them so they stopped eating my shirt."

Me:  "Where do you go to find a chipmunk jail?"

Son:  "Nae, Pop and Nommy showed me where.  They were nice chipmunks until they were mean and ate my shirt.  Look they are eating my shirt now!"

Me:  "Really?  I don't see them."

Son:  "They like to eat shirts inside.  These chipmunks have sticky feet and stick to my tummy and eat my shirt inside first.  Then my shirt will be all gone.  They are not new chipmunks.  They are very old.  They were somebody's once and then became mean.  That is why they like to eat shirts."

I really never know what he'll come up with next!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Love of Books (part one)

It makes me smile that my three year old loves books.  Its a passion I want to share with him so we read lots and lots.  Some days we will sit on the couch late morning or early afternoon reading together for over 30 min (a long time for an active three year old).  I treasure the memories of reading together, snuggled on the couch or sitting on his bed before nap or bedtime.

We visit the library about once a week.  He LOVES picking out new books.  We are working on correctly using the word "borrow" though.  He usually tells me "Mom, we need to buy this one too!".  It is not unusual for him to have a stack of 15+ books he wants to bring home that I help him reduce down to 6 or 7 (so I can keep track of them).  We usually read 2 or 3 that aren't coming home with us before we leave.  Every once in a while there is a book we don't bring home that he talks about all week and then I spend the next library visit trying to find it back :)   In June, I signed him up for Summer Reading at the library and he is amazed that they give him prizes for reading books!

Something he really enjoyed in his Early Childhood class last spring was being able to "play" with a story -- a craft related to a story, the felt story board, or playing with toys that allowed for acting out the story.  I'm hoping to try something along these lines at home a few times yet this summer (oh summer you are slipping through my fingers).  I'll try to post about it when we do.

What do you do in your family to encourage a love of reading?  I'm always love hearing new ideas!

Watch for part two sometime next week (I hope).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Our First Taste of Waiting

We've been officially waiting for just over a month so I thought I should post something about it.  Before we finished our homestudy, I didn't have a very good idea of what contact with our social worker would look like once we no longer had regular meetings or other "to do's" to send her.

Once a month we get a summary update from our social worker.  It has lots of general information about what's been happening at the local adoption agency:  how many moms they are working with (including how many are thinking of adoption or thinking of parenting -- since they provide support for both), babies born in the last month, and (most exciting) whether our profile has been shown.  The June update included that our profile was shown to one mom this month but she has picked a different waiting family.  There are certain situations where our social worker will contact us before our profile is shown, other times we'll just find out in the summary.

This month has just flown by.  I did mention to my husband a week ago, that I should figure out a master list to put somewhere of everything that needs to be done or purchased yet before a baby arrives.  In the back of my mind, I'm worried we'll end up in a situation where we don't have much time between when we find out and when meet baby.  Maybe a list will help me keep my sanity.  Maybe I just like lists...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Flag Craft (using what we have)

I know I've said it before, but I don't plan our craft projects much in advance.  I tend to improvise a lot with varying results.  I also tend to not buy craft supplies just for a particular craft.  We use what we have as much as possible.  Yesterday I was cuting out my printed coupons before we ran errands and thought there must be some good use for the long strips of paper cut off each sheet...

This project is the result.  Here's what we used:  a full sheet of red construction paper, a partial piece of blue paper, long strips of paper from cutting printed coupons, glue and the cutouts from 3 hole punch in my husband's home office.

My little boy enjoyed glueing all the hole punch circles to make the stars.  I helped him glue the stripes in an adempt to keep them straight.  Working together also gave us time to talk about the significance of the parts of the flag.  Since this and the last flag craft we did, he's been noticing the flags flying around town.  We're still working on the difference between a town and a state, so I'm pretty sure he doesn't understand what a country is.  The more we talk about it though, I think he'll get a better idea of the importance of the flags he sees.

After we finished our craft, he took the remaining "stripes" and created roads for his trucks.  Being creative with what he has!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Growing Garden Update

With the heat advisory warning issued for today, I was out in the garden before 8am.  While my little boy was having fun playing on his playground in his pajamas, I snapped a few new pics as I figured it was about time for another garden update. 

The snap peas are almost ready for picking, maybe even yet this week.  We have small green tomatoes on three of the six plants (I think two of them are Early Girl plants).  Everything else is growing well.  The replanted beans are flowering so we may have beans yet.

I declared the pumpkin officially lost and planted a few more seeds after my last update.  They came up within a week so not sure what happened to the others.  I know there might not be enough growing season left to get pumpkins but figured I'd try and see.

Our neighbor's garden is amazing.  Even though she planted about the same time, her plants are much larger.  I try not to be green with garden envy.  She's been gardening for a long time plus her plot has been more consistently fertilized through the years.  Thankfully she is quick to share her harvest.  A few weeks ago she had an abundance of radishes and delivered them to our kitchen door (at 7:45am).  When she heard the plight of our beans, she offered us some of hers as she has quite a few rows.

So far the fence seems to be a great investment.  We haven't seen any evidence of animals munching on our plants.  My husband did spot places where an animal tried to dig under the fence but thankfully he had buried several inches of fence which seems to have been effecctive.

My son continues to enjoy coming to help me in the garden and we've had lots of interesting conversations.  We've of course talked about weeds a number of times.  He likes to tell me know how the weeds are "the mean plants 'cause they steal all the water and sun from plants we planted".  He's also been watching the carrot plants closely as he helped plant those seeds.  One day after I'd pointed out the growing peas, he asked "But why are there no carrots growing on their leaves yet?"  Then I tried to explain how the carrots were growing under the ground.  I'm pretty sure he'll have fun helping harvest the carrots when its time.
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