Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween and the Pumpkin Fairy

A summary of some of the projects we've been working on in October -- 

What kid doesn't like to put things into other things? That's why I loved this idea from Play at Home Mom. Only downside is that it requires a bit of setup, but nothing much (and can be made with things you already have around the house). In addition to the activity of the box itself, I also used it as a chance to be completely child-led exploring and learning - letting him play with it as he saw fit. 

We ended up with a big piece of blank, white paper. What to do with it? I had Neven lay down, and I traced his body (which was fun in itself, since he kept thinking I was tickling him!). Then we added shoes, gloves, shorts, a shirt, and some hair. We hung the finished piece on the wall! 

A simple story to share, along with props that turn into a pumpkin mask! 

Today I had one of those Aha! days... Neven can play GAMES now! We played Memory (a kids version, and we only used a handful of cards at a time), then we moved on to Go Fish! (not too successful following the rules, but we did have lots of giving practice and also used the game to introduce the concept of PATTERNS). 

I thought the thrill of a non-toy cardboard box would last a day or two -- I think we've had this one for three weeks now! Neven's "room" now has a couch, snacks, TV, bookshelf (with titles decided by Neven on the spines, like dragons, ghosts, bats, rhymes, ducks...), a porch and yard, and dragons flying around outside. The box has been torn multiple times now, and yet, it's still usually the first thing both kids go to in the morning... The lesson I learned: Never underestimate the power of SIMPLE. 

This activity was simple - pumpkin carving. I had these grand ideas that the activity would be great for "sensory exploration" and generally fun because it was an excuse to get messy. Surely Neven would be interested in digging out the pumpkin guts and playing with them, maybe tossing them around (we were carving outside), right? Not exactly. I cut off the top of a pumpkin for him, and he'd reach in and get ONE seed at a time. Then it pretty much took him until I cleaned out two pumpkins entirely until he was sticking his hands into the slimy bowl o' seeds like the picture below. Some days, his lack of enthusiasm (SO like his dad in many ways!) frustrates me. I'd love to see just a bit more emotion from him, or know that something I do as a "treat" to him is something he truly enjoys. But then there's the flipside - on the days when he's content people-watching while other kids run around like crazy (like kids do), I'm grateful for his wallflower personality. Anyone else have a kid like this? 
Daria on the other hand, is in the stage where she's willing and determined to explore anything and everything!... so we distracted her with a pile of drying leaves. 

Before Halloween (week) started this year, I read about The Pumpkin Fairy and hoped she would consider a stop at our house. The legend goes something like this: The Pumpkin Fairy visits houses after Halloween, and eats any candy that may be left out for her (except for a few choice pieces set aside). She's known to leave a token of her appreciation in exchange, typically some small gift. 
Halloween #1 for us came in the mail on Tuesday from Salt Lake - a handful of candy from Meme and Papa. Neven ate a pack. Then we made pumpkin cookies for trick-or-treaters (pumpkin-shaped and frosted, with candy corn eyes, not pumpkin flavored), and he ate one of those. 
Halloween #2 was on Thursday night, in the form of trunk-or-treating with the Santa Fe Mommy Meetup Group. The treats were great - a fair mix of small prizes, gummy candies, lollipops (I think he managed to eat TWO the night of), cookies, and some chocolate. I was excited when we got home, and the one thing Neven wanted out of his bucket was the skeleton notepad. Maybe we won't have to feed our kid a white lie after all?  
But then the next morning came. He asked about candy within minutes of getting out of bed. And so we started off the day by going back and forth, and back and forth (5 thousand times!) - Neven asking if he could please have a piece of candy now, and me calmly explaining we'd have it for a snack after we ate breakfast. As the the roller coaster of our day went on, Neven had more meltdowns than he's had in weeks. I'm talking about lip-out, wailing about trivial things upset. Not listening, pushing limits, telling me NO to anything I said. In between fits, he'd be laughing and having a great time. 
It's not about having to deal with a hyper child for a few hours. It's about how I imagine he must feel a little out of control. I hate seeing him like this! I actually suspect it might be the coloring dyes, NOT the sugar. Since we've moved to Santa Fe, we changed our eating habits and tend to have no artificial coloring of any sorts in the food in our cupboards. Maybe he developed a sensitivity to it? Anyone have experience/thoughts about this theory?
I think this afternoon's activity will be writing a letter to The Pumpkin Fairy.

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