Monday, November 28, 2011

Schedule? What schedule?!

I know a few posts ago, I promised a school schedule that was working out for us. 

7:00 - Kids wake up, at the same time
7:30 - Neven works on his preschool workbook with Dad
8:00 - Breakfast, then get dressed for the day
9:30 - Daria takes a morning nap, and Neven and I do some sort of focused activity or art project
11:00 - Free play together, or maybe time for a quick walk
12:00 - Lunchtime
1:00 - Maybe an afternoon outing, like a trip to the library
3:00 - Daria takes an afternoon nap, and Neven and I head outside to play and explore
5:00 - Dinner, complimented by learning a few signs (sign language) 
5:30 - Neven works on a lesson from while I clean up from dinner and Daria plays happily by herself
6:30 - Bathtime and books
7:15 - Bedtime

Neven and Daria take turns waking up at 5:30, and so one is inevitably woken up by the other (before they are ready to wake up). Daria has been taking 20 minute naps, and waking up tired (fussy!). The past few weeks, we've been on countless playdates, nurturing new relationships, to meetings, on walks, and visiting with family. Oh, and then our 13.5 year old dog escaped last weekend (for the first time ever in the 7+ years we've had him), and was gone for 3 days and 3 nights (with lows in the 20s!). Talk about life grinding to a halt for everything except searching for our lost dog! We ended up finding him, thanks to an amazing community and a tip from a neighbor who saw him. 
And because LIFE is more important than sticking to a schedule (something I need to remind myself sometimes!), we haven't been doing much home-preschooling lately... but we're HAPPY. 

>> Here are some of the activities we have fit in the past few weeks. As always, I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts! <<

Do they sink or float? Use cold water to fill up the balloons, and another sensory dimension is added - which is colder, the balloon or the bathwater? If you're feeling brave (I wasn't!), add a few drop of food coloring and let them cut or pop them open into the bathwater. Neven decided there was a baby fish in his balloon, and insisted on rocking it to sleep before he could get out of the tub. Another idea from Play-at-Home-Mom... 

Simple idea: Fill balloons with different materials - I filled one with (dry) beans, another with flour, and a third with sugar. I don't have a funnel, so I cut the top of a milk jog off and used that! Neven had fun talking about how the balloons felt (he compared the flour-filled balloon to a cloud) and guessing what exactly was inside. 

What we did: Taped a large sheet of paper onto a wooden serving tray (or cookie sheet). We added a few drops of fingerpaint, then rolled a glass marble around trying to roll it through the paint. Next a plastic monkey walked through the paint and left behind him footprints, and then we used a car to drive through paint and make tire-tracks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our YES Day

*** PLEASE comment!! I need support on this one... ***

Neven had a rough day yesterday - he was easily upset by the small things, being rough with Daria, testing limits. I often think these days area result of me being distracted, in this case a non-napping Daria. I actually ended up on the floor of the kitchen in tears for a few minutes, frustrated with myself that I couldn't summon an endless supply of patience for my kids in need of just that. 
I decided a "YES" day was in order. I heard about this idea about a year or so ago when a blog I was following (maybe Peaceful Parenting?) suggested seeing how many requests of your child's you can answer "yes" to (of course, dangerous requests don't count!). I expanded this idea to include me not saying "no" any more than I absolutely had to. In other words, if they aren't doing something that really needs not be done, let them be! Hopefully it will break Neven out of whatever phase he's in (or at least, was in yesterday) and remind me about priorities in life. 

Our Day
Neven started out his day with a snack of Goldfish crackers, while watching Finding NemoThen he requested a bagel with mustard for breakfast. Of course, he stayed in his PJ's all day. We built forts out of a cardboard box and the couch cushions, jumped from pillow to pillow on the floor, made handprint turkeys with fingerpaint, baked cupcakes (a test run for his 3rd birthday party) and licked the bowl. We ate lunch in a tent in the middle of the living room, and had a cupcake for an appetizer. After lunch, Neven wore his snowsuit to get the mail. While Daria napped, he and I read books and played at The afternoon was filled with a bit of bed-jumping, kid-led independent play (which gave me some time to write this post!), some whining about me not letting him sit on Daria to "play", and some time curled up on the couch under a blanket watching some more TV (oy...). Neven ate dinner on the couch, then chose to do bathtime and bedtime normally. After the kids were asleep, I spent some time cleaning up, since I didn't enforce putting toys away all day. It wasn't nearly as bad as it sounds, and really only took me a few minutes. 

What did I learn from this? 
1. SURRENDER. To the idea that I AM a mom, and this is what I do. Unfortunate as it may be, my interests and to-do list needs to be on the backburner now - I'll get to it eventually (in 3 years?). I need to surrender not because I have to, but because that is the kind of mom I want to be. I want to take advantage of these years, soak up as much of my kids' childhood as I can, so I don't have any regrets! 
2. He'll eat, eventually. Neven will usually sit at the table for literally an hour and hasn't yet finished his meal. No complaints to get down or that he doesn't like the food, he's just that SLOW. Today, I left his mostly-eaten bagel on the table after breakfast. A few hours later and after taking a few licks of the cupcake bowl, he decided to sit down and finish his bagel. 
3. As a friend of mine once said: CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. Wise words, indeed. I need to learn to let the little stuff go. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

There's a Baby in the House?

Just in the past week or so, Neven has really taken to one of his baby dolls - the same one we got before he was born to introduce our dogs to the idea that a baby was going to be joining our family. Neven's "Baby" gets to go for most car rides with us, sleeps with Neven every night, and is with him first thing in the morning. She takes multiple naps a day (Neven has to nurse her to put her to sleep), she gets hot and cold (sleeper off, sleeper off...), and she likes to have books read to her. It's like Neven just realized there's a baby in the house, and is copying all that I do with Daria. I'm loving seeing this sweet side of him! 

It just so happened the same week, a good friend of mine asked me to make a baby carrier for her 2.5 year old daughter. Lucky for Neven, I got the design wrong on the first try, and so he ended up getting one for Baby. 

Do-It-Yourself Baby (doll) Carrier
For those of you that might be interested, here's how I made the carrier. REALLY simple to do! If you're not a sewer or a do-it-yourselfer, but know someone who might like a baby doll carrier for the holidays, let me know! ;) 

1. Cut fabric. You'll need two pieces that are 13x19 inches that will make the body of the carrier, and four pieces that are 3x36 inches (the length is pretty approximate!) that will be the waist and shoulder straps. 
2. With wrong side facing up, fold in the fabric about 1/2-inch on all sides and iron. Do this for both body pieces. 
 3. Place one body piece with wrong side facing up. Position the two waist straps at the bottom corners and the two shoulder straps on the sides about 1/3 of the way down as shown and pin in place. 
4. Place the second body piece on top of the first, wrong sides together. Pin into place. 
5. Sew around the edge, about 1/8-inch from the edge. For this carrier, my sewing machine was broken and so I did the sewing by hand. Although it took a lot longer, I prefer the look of the result! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dragon Wings

Turns out, we did get a visit from the Pumpkin Fairy. She ate all of Neven's candy, except for a box of raisins and two lollipops that she left for him. 

As a thank-you for all the great candy Neven shared with her, she left him some fancy dragon wings that she had made (here is the website she used). Neven hasn't mentioned his missing candy once, and has been happily running around the house with his dragon wings on, trying to take off! 

We've had fish before. The tank was in Neven's room, and he seemed to not notice it at all. Just another thing I had to take care of, and it became frustrating for me. A few weeks ago, I moved the tank to the dining room. And there-- it's a HUGE hit! Both Neven and Daria love it, and spend lots of time watching the fish (three guppies and two catfish) swimming around. Plus, Neven helps feed them every day. 

What we used: cartoon printout of a turkey, parts of a turkey printout, crayons, scissors, construction paper, glue, contact paper
We colored a "Happy Thanksgiving" picture of a turkey, then cut it out and pasted it to a piece of green construction paper. On the flipside, we did the same with a diagram of the part of a turkey. Then we covered it with contact paper. Simple and festive placemat... MADE! 

I'm making a blanket for a friend of mine, using her son's baby shirts and blankets (more on that in some future post). I used some of the leftover material to make an entertaining pull-box using an empty baby wipes box (similar to this idea, but using scraps of fabric instead of ribbon). Neven found an intermediate use for the fabric strips - he wanted me to tie them on him. The result looked something like a receiving-blanket-wearing ninja! 

Now something about ME... 
I did yoga today for the first time in months. If you don't count prenatal yoga, I think it may be closer to a year. I didn't even have to leave the house. I signed on to YogaToday and watched their free class of the week. Not quite as engaging as a class at a studio, but definitely better than nothing. I could literally feel blood flowing to parts of my body, rejuvenating my mind and well-being. It was FANTASTIC!!