Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Zahra's Number Themed Fete!

Honestly, I can't understand why I can't get their birthday posts up on time! I think I nearly kill myself getting the parties together, then flake in the documenting. Let's face it, the documenting is likely more important than the party, so this has got to stop! Next month is Zayd's party. I can do it!

Number 2 piƱata! Easy! Walmart self these online!

In my experience, second birthday parties are incomplete without a sensory bin. I thought I'd learned my lesson with Zayd's sushi rice bin circa 2013 - though the kids loved it, it's impossible to pick up wayward grains of rice. So, I went the pinto bean route and developed a little game where kids could count beans and put then into numbered Easter eggs. But, mostly, really, they just dug in and ended up with beans everywhere.

Two months later, I will tell you one way in which rice was better: when you give up and sweep it into the grass, it doesn't grow little rice plants... all over your yard. The kids have learned a little about the ways of plants though since they decided to plant beans in the flower boxes of their club house outside.

We topped the cupcakes with Trader Joe's Schoolhouse Shortbread cookies. Each kid got to pick their age!

More sensory stuff plus counting! It was hard to get the kids to sit and do this. In hindsight, this would have been better as a take home in their goody bags.
Some number stuff from Oriental Trading.

it was a great party that we shared with great neighbors. Zahra had a wonderful time and I got to celebrate my favorite little girl and numbers. Who could ask for anything more?

P.S. Because I'm nuts, we hosted this party approximately three hours after I finished my first half marathon. I'm thinking of doing Zayd's party six days after my second. #youliveyoulearn

My Lolly is Two

I owe you a birthday party post and we will get there. It was great, with amazing friends, food for 50, educational activities and 25 pounds of a bean sensory bin that we will keep for months to come. But, tonight, lets talk about my little lady and the day we have given her as a family.

We started with birthday muffins that were a hit while still being whole wheat and maple syrup sweetened. (Don't worry, we overindulged in refined sugars just before bed.) Then my littles were off to school. They were happy to go. It is a new, welcomed turn around that has made the last 10 days remarkable. It was also our first school-day birthday. It was bizarre to say the least. I think I told every person at work that my baby was 2. TWO! Here we are just before heading out the door. (Sometimes, she likes me.)

After school. we headed downtown to the Central Library. There were a few travel books there to pick up and the kids just enjoy new places. So, we ran. And played chase. And pulled leaves. It was fun and freeing and buses and trolleys were all around. It was a perfect outing for a two year old.

This little guy also loved it. He just doesn't love the camera.

He does not trust easily. She can go either way, but she's all in once she decides!

Finally, a smile!

Then, there was lots and lots of this.

But then we had the incident where Zahra "mysteriously" fell to the ground and bit off a small piece of her lip (tiny, really, but a piece) which she then placed in my hand. Like a champ. While blood poured from her face, she just kept saying, "I am hurt. I need to go to Dr. DeSoto." (If you didn't grow up with the book, he is a mouse dentist who treats other animals and outfoxes a fox.)

After a wonderful dinner with neighborhood friends, it was home for family time, three presents, and cake. Here is Zayd singing.

And Zahra wishing. I have never seen anything more beautiful.

A quick mid-cake coma, and then on to gifts.

This is Zahra opening her first gift. This was the first time I have watched her methodically unwrap something. She has gotten the wrapping off before, but this was new. I loved discovering it. Apparently, this is her concentrating face.

She was really happy to receive a box (which was actually a Melissa and Doug play-do set). She liked it even more when I turned it over.

A little play time with toy #1.

Then on to toy #2: kinetic sand. They are in love already. He might need his own...

And lastly, books. They each got 7 Eric Carle books which were actually courtesy of NiNi. They were the biggest hit of the evening. 

And, then, there was this. There really needn't be any more anything when this is how you get to end your day. Happy birthday to my sweet lovely and love to the boys who love her most.

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like a non-traditional Christmas!

I have wracked my brain trying to figure out how to get a tree in my living room that is easy, affordable, and won't die without water for two weeks.

  • Easy since I have the lolly's second birthday party, our neighborhood Christmas party, and my first marathon in ONE 24 hour spell this weekend
  • Affordable since I have spent money on the lolly's second birthday party, our neighborhood Christmas party, and my first marathon all for this weekend
  • And won't die without water so I can neglect said tree while taking care of things infinitely more important (and fun!) over the coming weeks
I introduce, the Giftree. (OK, actually every single one of those boxes is empty, but impeccably wrapped (on the side you can see).) I love it. It is hypo-allergenic, cost me about $10, re-usable, cleared out a ridiculous amount of space from my garage, and fun. So super fun. The kids were way more excited to make a tree out of boxes than they have ever been to do ornaments. By the way, did I mention that I didn't have to get out the ornaments? And I won't have to put away the ornaments? And my toddlers didn't break ANYTHING in the making of this tree. In fact, Zayd says, "all we need is a triangle box for the top". I am pretty sure that means we accomplished this tree and a math lesson in one afternoon. Merry Christmas!

And, speaking of, this little guy is in the spirit. Here he is at naptime with the one ornament we bothered to bring in, "the basketball ornament". 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dino Shapes and Learning Through Play!

We were hoping to spend a good three hours hiking in Government Canyon this weekend to see the recently-discovered 110-million year old dino prints found in a dried up creek bed. (This is pretty much the only positive side effect I know of from global warming.)  Anyway, a random south Texas cold front + rain meant we weren't hiking anywhere. (Don't fret, it wasn't enough rain to refill that river bed!) To go along with our trip to see Acrocanthosaurus, I designed a dinosaur shape activity that actually turned out amazing!

First, I spent about an hour cutting shapes into cardstock during nap on Friday. At first I considered doing all green but I already had sheets of the random colors and thought it might be a little more fun, anyway. I will say that I was ecstatic to see Zayd pick colors that weren't blue (in addition to using nearly everything that was). The old me would have eyeballed the shapes and called it a day, but now that I have a child in Montessori, I felt responsible for maintaining some of the concepts they work on so actively in the classroom.

I also made a model that the kids could use to see what is possible. Zayd is not apt to jump right in so I think it is imperative that I give him a clue as to the "right" way to do something (his words, not mine...we are working on that). I brought in Zayd's favorite book (of all time?) National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinos to give him some inspiration and it worked perfectly. By the way, if your kiddo likes dinos, just go by the book now. We read all 130+ pages twice a day, every day UNLESS someone stops by in which case we take the time to read it to them as well.

While I tried to make my dino on cardstock (not using a real dino inspiration), I found I was running out of space. For the kids, I decided to use contact paper so we wouldn't have to mess with gluesticks and we could break out of the 8.5x11 box. (Gluesticks look too much like chapstick and the lolly especially can't resist.) I taped down the dino paper, sticky side up and let them have at it.

The lentil picked Stegosaurus first. We got to work on concepts of shapes, obviously, but also counting, observation, fine motor skills and hand eye coordination: getting four legs in a row is nontrivial work when you are three! We also had great conversations about which size rectangle we would need and concepts of scale: "are his legs bigger or smaller than his tail?"

Z put two triangles together to make food for our dino and discovered, much to his surprise, a square! It was definitely a "Montessori at home" win.

This little guy was proud.

You may have noticed that Zahra's contact paper didn't get adorned with any dino parts. She also loves dinos but isn't quite up to the challenge we had here, though i invited her to play along with us. We decided that she found the tactile play involved in running over her sticky contact paper much more to her liking so that is what she did.

And some of this every time I turned around. That is her bottle of vitamins. She moved the furniture to build a climbing apparatus. 

Zayd moved on to make a Carnotaurus (the funniest dino because of his teeny tiny baby arms - we didn't have any pieces tiny enough) and a Mamenchisaurus who had the longest neck of any animal every living. 

OH! And i made a Scansoriopteryx because I didn't think the triangles were getting enough love. :)

We will definitely be doing this again and again, likely with different inspiration. And i decided that #2 of Zayd's three presents needs to be this awesome toy