Friday, May 25, 2012

A Mini Scoop

I've always loved being with children ages 3 1/2 to 4 1/2.  I love their imaginations, the way they process the world around them, and how much they are learning every minute.  I'm super blessed to have a little boy right in the middle of my favorite age range living with me!

Today, as Joel was done with his rest time (which does not equal sleep), he came to let me know he was ready for a snack.  In the sweetest voice he said, "Mom, I'm going to have dessert before dinner with a pretzel. Does that sound like a good idea?" 

Moments later I walked into the kitchen and saw this:

While guarding the ice cream container and bowls he repeated several times, "We're going to share it. We're going to share it." As if to convince me that it's ok that he is helping himself to ice cream in the middle of the day because he's going to share some with me.

Joel's bowl is on the left and mine on the right.  He divided it pretty evenly, too.

He's so proud of himself for getting us both ice cream.

Yes, I thanked that sweet little boy for sharing a snack with me.

Then, as I was wiping him off (because he was sticky with ice cream from scooping it and eating it), he said so sweetly, "Mom, you're welcome for that ice cream treat."

Oh, how I love him! :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free Fun in the Big City (Part 2)

A few Saturdays ago was a pretty big deal.  It was National Train Day!  Trains are a BIG deal in our family.  Joel LOVES all things trains.  My grandpa and great grandfather both worked for the railroad, so trains are special to me too.  We made big plans for National Train Day this year.  Unfortunately, Jim had to play a wedding and couldn't join us for the fun.  So I decided to venture out with the 2 kids in tow independently.  We drove to our local train station just a few miles from our house.  Then attempted to buy a weekend pass train ticket for me ($7 on and off all weekend) with both kids being free, however, I didn't realize that the stations don't have attendants on the weekend.  I've only taken the train one other time and it was with 4 adults and only 1 kid almost 3 years ago.  So, Joel, Kirstin, and I skeptically waited around until the designated time for the train.  
He was so precious as he was sitting at the station.

 We were pleasantly surprised when the train showed up and stopped.  We anxiously and excitedly climbed aboard.  Fortunately, you can buy the ticket from the conductor.  Joel, who is well read about trains, was very intrigued by the conductor coming to take (sell us) our ticket.

I love this picture of Joel and Scheppy watching the suburbs go past as we take the train downtown.

Kirstin was trying to steal Joel's conductor's hat.

So where were we taking the train?  We went to Union Station!  They had several FREE exhibits to celebrate National Train Day.  There was a section for kids where they each received a paper conductor's hat, a paper Amtrak engine, and a Junior Conductor's coloring book.  The main hall also had some performances, demonstrations, model trains, and various train exhibitors where we were able to pick up some more freebies, including wooden train whistles.

We were also able to tour a Amtrak train.  Joel was thrilled with being able to "explore a passenger train".  Again, he is well read when it comes to trains, but hasn't had very much experience on them.

Joel need to push every button, turn every lever, sit in every type of chair.  He loved this hands (and feet) on experience.  It was so exciting to him that he didn't mind that this portion was so similar to the airplane seats with which he is very familiar.

Joel climbed the ladder to the top bed in the family bedroom of one of the sleeper cars.  I told him to look like he was sleeping. :-)

We also enjoyed some quiet time in one of the 2 person sleeping areas, but I was busy feeding Kirstin so didn't take a picture.

After just about 2 hours at Union Station, it was time for us to go find our track to go back home.  The train was there and open for us to get on board.  Both kids (and their mom) were a bit tired and hungry at this point.  We all shared a snack while we waited for the train to leave the station.  Once we were back out into the daylight, Joel again enjoyed watching all the towns go past.  He even enjoyed asking as EVERY station approach was announced if it was "Belmont Station".  

Joel loved both of the one hour train rides, as well as the exploring and exhibits in Union Station.  Kirstin was happy that I wore her in the Ergo baby carrier all day.  I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride that we had a fun day during a totally new adventure for all of us with me as the solo adult with both kids!  We were all excited to share the experience with Jim when we arrived at home church (he was so sad to miss out on this adventure).  We are looking forward to vacation this summer when we get to do even more fun adventures that will include daddy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5x7 Folded Card

We Heart Grandpa Father's Day Card
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We're going to the zoo tomorrow...

Ok, so we actually went to the zoo last week, but I'm pretty sure the title of this post are lyrics to a song. At least it is now because I was singing it to Joel and Kirstin all day the day before we went to the zoo last week.  We went to the Brookfield Zoo.  Joel and I have actually been to it several times (maybe 6) since we've lived here and have not paid yet!  We typically go with friends that have a membership and can bring guests.  That's how we did it this time too!

Joel loves to look at pictures of things we've done, so posting zoo pictures here is a great way to show him later.

I always like the giraffes.  Such cool creatures.
I learned that they often see danger before other animals (in the wild) so they are often watched by the other animals as a warning system. 

Joel wanted to see the zebras.  Well, Brookfield zoo has a zebra (not zebras), but here he/she is.

Not sure if it's the best idea to let Joel climb on the fence, but there weren't signs saying not to (and he didn't fall).

Grizzly bear that was saying hi and smiling for cameras.

This peacock was playing peek-a-boo with Joel.

A different peacock that Joel was befriending.

Some female gorillas

Joel took this picture of the lioness (awake) and the lion (sleeping on the right).

My little monkey on the lion statue.

Joel took this picture of the wind chimes at the entrance/exit of the zoo.  He did a pretty good job! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Free Fun in the Big City

The kids and I have been busy taking advantage of activities and events around where we live.  A huge advantage of living in the suburbs of a big city (Chicago!!) is that there are always events going on and they are often FREE!  I love FREE!  I don't take advantage of all of the free events and activities that take place in the city, but I try to pay attention to those that Joel would enjoy.

Our little suburb had a "Motion Explosion" on May 4th.  The two things that caught my eye on the sign as I drove by were "Free" and "touch-a-truck".  Now, I had never heard of a "touch-a-truck" event before living here, but it is pretty self explanatory and amazing to my preschool boy!  This event took place just a few miles from our house, so it was an easy thing to go to.  Much to all of our liking, Jim took a break from work/homework early to join us (the close proximity is the only way that worked).
Joel loved the really tall front loader!  However, he was terrified to climb down, so I had to climb up and hand him down to Jim.  He gets his fear of heights from both of his parents.

I love this kid!

Daddy wearing his Peach.  They are driving the right side of the Street Sweeper.

Joel and I are driving the left side of the Street Sweeper.  Ok, so Joel is doing all the driving, I'm just sitting there because he was a bit scared after the front loader.

Joel's favorite... the garbage truck (that was actually running)!  This is the same kind that picks up in our neighborhood.  The garbage man in the right of the picture knows the guys who pick up at our house.  Joel waves to our garbage men every week!

There were a few other trucks and jump house things, but these were the highlights for our little guy!  This fun, free, and quick event was a great lead up to a rare family dinner out at a restaurant.  We went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate Cuatro de Mayo (it was funny to us).

Let me know if you ever know of other free events that my family might enjoy!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mother's Day Project

Spoiler alert...if you are a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, or Godmother to me or my kids please don't read this post until after Mother's day.  I wouldn't want to ruin your surprises! :-)

Since Jim and I got married we decided as a family that we didn't want to purchase cards for any occasion.  We roughly calculated the $3-$4 that people had spent on engagement, bridal shower, and wedding cards could have added up to feed us for probably the first year of our marriage!  That was significant enough for us to choose to not spend that money.  However, we do love to acknowledge various occasions that would typically warrant the buying and giving of a card.  I also love to be creative and crafty, but mostly when it has a purpose and function (not just for something to do).  So, I make cards.  I enjoy personalizing the cards and using items that I have around the house (old magazines, ribbon, colored paper, sharpies, etc.).  Each card may not be Hallmark quality, but it has love and thought poured into it.  An added perk is that I take the opportunity to pray for the person I'm making the card for while creating it.

Now for the Mother's day cards.  This is one time of the year that I prioritize including the kids in the creating process as much as possible.  We talk about the special people that will receive the cards as gifts.  We often choose special features for the individual.  Joel knows most of their favorite colors so will try to pick their color for them. :-)

This year I wanted to include both Kirstin (10 months) and Joel (3.5 years) in making a card for each of the 7 matriarchs in their lives (other than their Momma!). So, I decided we would do butterflies.  Joel and I have been reading books about spring, which include lots of butterflies.  So this just made sense.

Now for the crazy part... (HINT: have supplies all ready and within reach before engaging the kiddos in the process!)

I stamped Kirstin's feet.  I chose red ink because that was the only ink pad that I had that was washable ink.

red piggies

Look how sweet her foot print is on all those pink papers!

Then the other foot... I tried my best to get them lined up for a symmetrical butterfly.

Baby wipes are the perfect tool to use to wipe off the cute little toes when they are done being artsy.

After Kirstin's little feet were all stamped, I went back and stamped my finger in the middle for the body of the butterfly.  I also used a sharpie to make eyes and antenna.

Joel's butterflies were different.

We put finger paints in a tray.  Joel put the paints on his hands.  Each time before putting his hands on the paper he pressed his hands together so the butterflies would be symmetrical.
We worked to have Joel's thumbs overlap to be the antenna.  This worked for some of them.  He wanted me to add eyes (and antenna to the ones that the thumbs didn't overlap right).

I love to see my kids' hands and feet printed!

Both butterflies flying together!

Here's one of the finished cards.  I added a message and signed the cards.  I tried to get Joel to sign them himself, but he was done with art and needed to play with trucks after making SEVEN cards!

Another one of the completed cards.

They were all unique and special!  We had so much fun making them.

We even had several outtakes during the process, I'll only share a few (Joel had taken the camera for a bit and took many more.)

Cute girl ready for whatever her Momma is going to do with all those fun looking supplies!

Colorful hands and happy boy!

Kirstin came to check out what her brother was doing.  He looked and sounded like he was having fun.

Yes, he put his paint covered hands on her face!  I cringed at the anticipation of this happening, but they both were laughing so much that I took a picture and wiped her off after.:-)

Happy Mother's Day to all our Moms, Grandmas, and the kids' Godmothers!  We love each of you so much and praise God for the special people that you are to us!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another rainy day...

It's spring, so we've had several rainy days recently.  We are grateful that today was a sunny and warmer day, though!  With all of the rain, we've had to get creative with what to do with our need to move, which for a 3 almost 4-year-old boy means climb, jump, climb, climb, run, climb, oh and "Mommy, can I climb up you?"  Typically, this would be a great time to cue Daddy for some rough and tumble play (aka wrestling!), but Daddy is 2 (HUGE) papers and a presentation away from the end of his semester.

Since we had gone to the Dupage Children's Museum , where we have a membership (and love it!) on Monday, we were at home on Tuesday.  So, Tuesday (rainy day 3 in a row) we did a special Mother's day project in the morning.  This project was tons of fun and will get a post all of its own soon.  However, that left us with the afternoon with a Joel who did not nap (which is fairly common at this point) and needed to climb and be super active.  So here's what became of our "all the way downstairs" (we have a split level, so it's the lowest of the 3).

An Obstacle Course!!

Joel had to drive the Cozy Coupe Car to the slide, slide down, then crawl through the fort (blanket draped over the couch and coffee table), jump up and shoot hoops with 2 different size basket balls, crawl through the tunnel, then toss about 8 bean bags into a box, then run over to "Chair Chop" (a stuffed lamb chair) to sit down, put on his Buzz Lightyear hat, and play his trumpet!!  

Then, my creative child decided he needed to do it all again, but in reverse!  This worked really well, except the Buzz hat came off on the way back through the tunnel.  :-) 

Mission Accomplished!