Monday, March 26, 2012

Over the River and Through the Woods...

... to Grandmother's house we go!  Ok, so we didn't really go over a river or through woods, but I did take my kids to visit their Grandma Kris this past week.  My mother-in-law lives about 2 hours north of us in Wisconsin.  She had a couple of days off all together and Jim had classes and homework, so it seemed like a great time to take the kids on an overnight trip for fun with Grandma Kris.

When we first got there both kids raided the toys upstairs!  She has toys and books that are hand me downs from her neighbor, which are perfect for Joel and now Kirstin when we visit (read as less things for me to pack).  Then we head over to visit with Jim's grandparents.  We had a lovely visit!

The next day started with fun around the house and yard, while Kirstin took a surprise 3 hour morning nap.  She normally only naps for 45 minutes to an hour in the morning and the long nap in the afternoon.  Oh well! :-)

Then it was off to the local Children's museum that we could all get into for free with our Association of Children's Museum membership (which totally has paid for itself every year!!!)

Joel loved being the engineer of this train.  I wish I had a recording of his conversations on the "radio".  

The museum has a kid-sized town.  Our favorite of this part was the "City Bus".  Joel was a great bus driver.

Kirstin loved when Joel played "The Wheels on the Bus" on its radio.

Fine dining at the Pizza Parlor 

Joel was actually sorting the mail accurately!

Kirstin loved crawling through this tree trunk.

This was in the "younger kids" park area.  It was quieter and safe for Kirstin and Joel to both explore. 

Look at her standing by herself.

Oh how I love the soft blocks for Kirstin to climb all over. (this was a "no shoe" zone for the wee little ones).

Joel LOVED this...scoop, pour, scoop

I could just kiss her all day!  (oh wait, I do!)

Here is Joel conducting a symphony in the "Arts" section of the museum.  Fortunately, nobody took a picture of the 4 of us exploring classical ballet.  Although, we did discover that another mom had been watching us and was quite entertained!  

We had a fun time and enjoyed "Grandma Kris' children's museum".  I really do enjoy going to various children's museums.  They are all so unique and enticing for my kids and their momma. :-)  Let me know if you know of any fabulous children's museums that I should plan a trip to visit (anywhere in the country... we travel often enough!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On the move

I've been meaning to post some of these pictures for a little while, but here they are now! :-)  Our sweet little girl is on the move.
The first place she pulled up... her piano!  This was also Joel's favorite "climbing" toy at this age.

Sitting pretty on Valentine's Day (I told you this were a bit older of pictures).

Grinning at Momma

Climbing on empty boxes.  Various sizes boxes make a great baby jungle gym.

I can stand up.

Another common occurrence... she's down.  This occurs for 2 different reasons around here.  Reason #1 she loses her balance or gets tired and just topples over or Reason #2 (more common) big brother doesn't want her where she is anymore and he pushes her over.

Playing with Daddy, but oh wait... Kirstin sees Mommy and must get to me fast! (She is Momma's girl!!!)

Up close and personal as Kirstin climbs on me while I'm trying to take her picture.

Surpirse, she has something in her mouth.  EVERYTHING she gets in her hands goes straight into her mouth.

So sweet!!

Crawling through a tunnel with determination.

She thinks she is going to make it through to Mommy, so is almost smiling again.

Joel and Scheppy coming through the tunnel too.

Climbing through the dining room chairs.  You just have to love that sweet face and smile! :-)

Since this last picture at the end of February, Kirstin now pulls herself up onto anything she can reach: the couch, coffee table, dishwasher, Joel's big trucks.  She has also managed to climb up the stairs (trying to get to something she wanted to put into her mouth).  For her safety, I haven't grabbed my camera for all of her mobility and explorations.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Crazy winter weather

We've had a mild winter for Chicagoland this year!  For those of us that much prefer the winters in Florida and Texas that don't ever require gloves, scarf, hat, heavy coat, or boots, let alone all of those at the same time or else you might just freeze, this winter hasn't been too bad.  Jim declared it a "no complaining winter."  We do try to get outside as much as possible, regardless of the weather.  
Our "Sweet Peach" on the grass for the first time.  This was in early Feburary.

Her mitten came off.  She wasn't too sure about actually feeling the grass.

"What's this stuff in my hand and can I eat it?"

Two days later... taking Kirstin out in the snow for one of her first "playing" in the snow experiences.

Needless to say, her Daddy quickly (and enthusiastically) took her back inside out of the cold.

About two weeks later... really wet, icy snow

Kirstin stayed warm this day by hanging out with Jim.

We made big snowballs for a snowman, but couldn't successfully make the snowman due to technical difficulties and some laws of physics probably.

Fortunately, Joel was pretty happy about the snow chair.

We smoothed out the front so he could sort of slide down (with some help).

All of this snow was gone after just a few days and we've even been out without jackets a few times recently.  We are ready for Spring with daffodil buds appearing, but I wouldn't be surprised if we still got more snow before Spring really comes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Finger Painting turned Monster Truck Race

Joel has been asking about what happens when two different colors are mixed. For example, "Mommy, what happens when yellow and blue mix?" The answer here is, of course, green.  After talking through this several times and covering all of the possibilities several times, one particular day while Kirstin was napping I thought it would be a good idea to allow him to explore some of this color mixing.  I'm all for making a mess for the sake of learning, but the timing has to be right (which is why it took a couple of days before we did the experiment).

Since I tend to save things that might work well for a project someday (much to the annoyance of my loving husband who would really prefer I throw it all away), I had a giant piece of paper that was packaging for something.  This giant piece of paper happened to have a shiny side, very much like the expensive finger paint paper, but this was free so much better! :-)

So I told Joel to come to the kitchen and roll up his pants legs and take off his shirt, at which point I had his attention because I'm normally telling him to put his shirt on! I laid the giant piece of paper on the floor.  I put squirts of finger paints into an old egg carton (another item of trash potential project material that I saved).  The egg carton worked really well to hold the perfect amount of finger paint and I could throw it away at the end to minimize clean up time (even though finger paints wash really easily!).

So after about 1 minute, Joel's excitement for painting was done.  However, I still had finger paints out that I wasn't going to throw away and this great giant piece of still mostly blank paper.  So, I had an idea....

I got a couple of Joel's hot wheels cars (with various sizes and textures of wheels) and began to drive them through the paint.  This is where Joel became engaged and excited about the painting again! :-)

I would paint sections of the paper and Joel would drive the cars through it.  He was so excited to be doing this.  It made really cool tracks all over the paper.
Joel said that he was having a monster truck race.  He even tore the paper a bit at one point when a car jumped through some paint.
The whole scene

The good news is that a baby wipe cleaned the finger paints that got on the bamboo floors and little boy very easily.  No damage done and we did color mixing via a monster truck race. :-)

Oh and this lovely giant piece of paper is now folded up in Joel's room because he also likes to save things.  However, I will likely be able to talk him into getting rid of it after a few weeks of it not being looked at again.  It's all about the process for me!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Windy Wednesday

I have several other posts planned, but thought I'd start with what we did today.  We have been spending much of our time at home because Kirstin has been napping for 2-3 hours at a time twice a day.  Today was a very windy day!  We could hear the wind.  We could see branches, leaves, trash, our downspout, and various other things being blown around outside.

Joel has a kite that he regularly asks if he can fly... in the snow, in the rain, in the backyard with a large tree that covers the entire yard.

Then, I got an idea... let's make a windsock!

 Joel was convinced when he saw the line up of supplies needed for this project: tape, stapler, scissors, hole puncher, yarn, crepe paper streamers, construction paper, and stickers.  Here's Joel decorating the body of the windsock with stickers (aka fine motor development, pre-writing skill).

Next cut enough crepe paper strips to line the bottom of the construction paper. 
(oh look, another skill is being practiced here)

Taping the streamers to the under side of the paper.

We needed 6 streamers for our windsock.  Joel is eager to use the stapler.

Roll the construction paper to form a cylinder and staple at both ends. Be careful not to staple a streamer. (I love the concentration on Joel's face.)

Using the hole puncher, punch 3 evenly spaced holes around the top (the opposite end of where the streamers are attached).  Joel was actually strong enough to do this himself (which he loved).

Cut 3 pieces of yarn and attach through the holes.  Then gather them all at the top and tie in a knot.  (Sorry the pic isn't rotated, I'll try to remember to do that better next time)

Check out that windsock in action!

Joel loved playing with his windsock that he made himself.

He wanted to do it while standing on the bench because he saw me do that to take his picture.

Exciting wind.

I love this one!  Joel's watching the trees and other things that are blowing around the yard.  I can see him processing what "wind" is and does.

After all the windsock fun was done, we went inside.  I found a couple books about a windy day (even though I couldn't find the one I was looking for that I know I have 2 copies of!).  We sat together and read books about wind.  

I love my job! Real learning happened today at our house; how about your's?. :-)