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A Year of Trying to be a Better Mom

Whoa…is it dusty in here or what? July 30, 2010

Um, hi.

I know, I know. I said I would write. I said I would write EVERY day. And I intended to do that. And then, well. You see, I got BUSY. And I bet you can hardly imagine that, as a mother of now nearly 7 month old twins and a 2 1/2 year old, I might be busy. But I was.

Sorry for neglecting you, my precious blog. Sorry for abandoning you, my handful of faithful readers! I am back. And that’s the thing about journeys right? You may get off course, but it takes just one step on the old path to get back on it again. So. Here I am.

And never to fear. I may have been too busy to write (and boy do I have the list of excuses, but I’ll spare you), but not too busy to be keeping my children busy!

To fill you in on the past almost 2 months, I’ll just do a sneak peek here. Then, as I have time, I will update these sneak peeks with posts and tutorials. But I will simply move forward as I do that, so as not to create an even FURTHER backlog as I try to catch up.

So, since we last spoke. Here is what we have been  up to.

We….

Wrote our own songs & lyrics

Went on quite a few road trips to Michigan and Minnesota

Got to ride on Grandpa's tractor

Got to see our G.G. when she came to visit

Made a fort out of blankets in the living room

Painted picture frames for all our grandpas

...and for Daddy

Painted a t-shirt for our cousin, Ethan, because it was his first birthday

Made the wrapping paper for Ethan's present

Celebrated Father's Day

Learned to use a train whistle

Went to a BBQ at Uncle Chris' and made new friends

Went out for ice cream

Flew remote control toys with Daddy (this is a helicopter)

Painted the letter D

Made a Chinese "Dragon Kite"

Made thumbprint art

Killed time at the Dr.'s office by practicing shape recognition

Made an entire orchestra's worth of paper plate and cardboard instruments, like this Paper Plate Violin

and this Paper Towel Tube Flute

and these Paper Plate Cymbals

and finally, a cardboard box "Color Piano" (I think my kid is going to be a musician one day)

Had to go in the basement and hang out because of tornado sirens

Made thunder noises with a big sheet of paper and talked about weather (so it's not so scary next time there is a big storm)

Did 4th of July themed activities like hand print fireworks with Mommy

and lit up "snakes" with Daddy (insert Mommy "eyeroll" here)

Got our first set of golf clubs at Grandma's house in Minnesota

Went to the splash park (and the beach, and played in our sprinkler, and played in our kiddie pool)

Started solids

Found our feet

Went to Aunt Ciana's graduation party in Michigan

Made an awesome race car out of a big, cardboard box

Played "house" and "restaurant" and "this is where the puppy lives" with a big, cardboard box

Painted whatever we wanted with brushes

Made scribble drawings

Played with Easter Eggs (again)

Pretended to be a puppy (a lot).

Decided that THIS is how you play with a bouncy seat (and there's no stopping us)

Started trying to CRAWL (Mommy says, "AHHHH!")

Played with textures like crinkly newspaper

Made an elevator on our living room wall

Painted with noodles. How silly!

Decided we should do things, "All by ourselves"...like put on our sunglasses.

We went to the park, and on playdates. We pretended to be puppies and frogs. We developed an imaginary tiger as a friend.We colored and painted and cooked and made things…like I said…we were BUSY.

And there you have it. Whew!

(please check back for individual posts on these projects as I get time to update them. I will link the posts to the pictures.)

 

Day 32: Color Train May 22, 2010

Filed under: books,colors,Craft,Games,trains — Erin Brambilla @ 10:58 pm
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Ever since the National Train Day family outing, trains have been subject numero uno on Zach’s mind lately. I mean, “tractors” (construction equipment) is still up there, don’t you worry, but trains are the flavor du jour. So after a fun day of playing at the park, we took a trip to the library to pick out some books. I spotted a book that I thought would be perfect to take home. Zach has been struggling to pick up the concept of learning colors, this book deals with colors. It also deals with trains. Awesome.

Freight Train by Donald Crews

The book is a simple board book. It shows a freight train and each car is a color in the rainbow. Zach seems to enjoy it. To go along with the book we got from the library, I decided to make a little game for Zach to play. The Color Train Game.

I took a long piece of thin cardboard I had lying around. It came in the box a bridesmaid dress was shipped in (that I also recycled for a project!). It’s about the thickness of regular poster board. So, you know, if you don’t have a bridesmaid dress getting shipped to you in the very near future, you could use that instead. I also used some construction paper, markers, scissors, an envelope and a glue stick.

Supplies

I needed each color of the rainbow for both the construction paper and the markers. But I didn’t have purple construction paper, so I just colored a white piece of paper purple. It works. I also didn’t have indigo. But that’s OK, the book doesn’t mention indigo, so we’re in the clear. Poor, left out indigo. I guess it’s a misspelled rainbow–ROYGBV.

My idea was pretty simple: connect a bunch of different color squares, train like, and make a matching game to teach colors. First, I had to figure out how big to make the squares. You might decide to measure. I forgot to grab the ruler from the supply bin and was too lazy to get up. So I guessed. And then cut. And recut. But whatever. It’s only wasted paper…right (note sarcasm)? Those scraps will work for some other projects. After I cut my color squares, I traced them on the cardboard (that I had already drawn some “tracks” on).

Colored squares all fit (there are two black pieces b/c the book calls for a black coal tender and black engine)

Trace the squares and draw lines to connect them, I decided to leave the engine on permanently

Then I took out my markers and wrote in each corresponding square on the cardboard what color paper square belongs there. I also drew a little block line to show the color more. Then I drew wheels, so the train didn’t look like it was floating.

Colors written in

At the top I wrote, “What color are the train cars?”. I was going to consider it done at this point, but then I had a stroke of genius and decided to glue an envelope to it so when he’s not playing the game, there is a place to store the color squares. I am good!

Titled and storage envelope glued on

After Zach woke up from his nap, we read the book together and I had him play the game. He was patient enough to humor me for about 2 color matches and then he just scattered the squares around the play area. Oh well. We can play again later!!

Playing the color train game

What did Zach learn today? A new game. He took some steps to learning more colors.

What did Mommy learn? Measure, measure, measure. Haste makes waste, right? Or maybe it’s laziness that makes waste. Either way. And also Zach LOVES the library. The last time we were there he discovered that they keep crayons and coloring books there for the kids, he doesn’t actually color for very long (at home or the library) but the attraction of it is enough to make him excited to go there. He actually likes bringing the books home to read as well.

 

Day 24: Letter B May 12, 2010

Filed under: Craft,family,Games,letters,numbers,patterns — Erin Brambilla @ 5:03 pm
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B for Bee. And B for BONUS–Uncle Chris Visit!!

This morning Uncle Chris had a meeting for work not far from our house and afterward he came to hang out a little bit. After being corralled into “Here-play-with-the-kids-while-I-attempt-to-clean-please duty”, we tried to teach Zach to play Hide and Seek. I think Zach got the seeking part down. The hiding he wasn’t so good at. Mostly because he was way too impatient to wait to be found. If Mommy hadn’t been there, physically holding him in the hiding spot, he would have popped out on his own to start chasing the seeker. But, we did attempt to play for a while.

First, Uncle Chris would hide, then Zach and I would count to ten and say, “Ready or not, here we come!!”. This is the part Zach liked, he’d count to at least 3, then start RUNNING while saying, “Ready or not!”. As soon as he found Uncle Chris, he’d start giggling and then would run away. Zach loves to be chased. He always has. These days though, chase ends with, “Superman!”

Found ya! Superman!!

After Uncle Chris had to leave, I decided to do today’s activity, hoping to distract Zach from being upset that he was gone. But well, the letter B doesn’t really compare. At least I tried!

What I have learned, after our Letter A lesson, is that even if Zach doesn’t seem into the lesson/craft, he’s actually still soaking it in. As was demonstrated a few days ago when, completely unprompted, Zach pointed to his Letter A picture and said, “Letter A, Ah!” to his Daddy. We were shocked and amazed! I had left the picture taped to our fridge and he has been passing by it for over a week now. I hadn’t really given it much thought. But just randomly, he pointed it out and named it. Yay! I DID teach him something. So, I will most definitely be moving forward with this letter of the week thing. This week’s letter being letter B. For Bee. Bumblebee.

Supplies:

Yellow, black and white construction paper, glue, scissors and a black market

I cut half of each piece of yellow and black paper into strips. I also cut the other half of the black paper to make some wings and some antennae. I then called Zach over to help me. I thought that this letter lesson could also start off in teaching him about patterns (as well as colors). I took and glued the first 3 strips onto some plain white paper in a yellow, black, yellow pattern. I explained the pattern to Zach and asked him which piece of paper came next. He didn’t get it. And I didn’t really expect him too. But I told him we would do the black piece next and glued it down. Then I asked him which he thought came after that. He still didn’t get it. And that’s OK, he’s never done this before. So I said the yellow piece. And so on and so forth. I did let him help me glue and stick the pieces on. He did so half-heartedly.

Gluing the strips down

After gluing a piece or two, he got a very important phone call on his cell phone.

Oh, sorry mom, I gotta take this

He said he was talking to "Weah". Leah is a little girl at our church. She is the pastor's daughter. Zach either has his first crush, or Leah plays with the cool toys in the nursery. Though in 2-year-old world, that's probably the same thing.

So, I pressed on. I finished gluing the strips down. Then I took the black marker and made a big letter B, cut it out and glued on the wings and antennae I had made earlier. I told him what I was doing the entire time, and once in a while he would glance in my direction.

It looks like a bee, right? I mean, it's better than my "Animal A"

Then I glued the B to another white piece of paper and wrote, “B is for Bee” on it. I debated if I should write “B is for Bumblebee” but I didn’t.

B is for Bee

After that I taped the B Bee next to the A Animal where I hope he will see it over the next few days and recognize what it is. I’ll be sure to point it out!

Fridge art: how you know you are the mom of a young child

Besides continuing the Fridge Phonics song we learned with the Letter A, but sung with the Letter B this time, I also sang a verse of a song I remember singing with my parents as a kid. You can do this song with every consonant in the alphabet, but today we just did B.

B-A Bay
B-E Bee
B-I Biddy Bi
B-O Bo, Biddy Bi Bo
B-U Bu, Biddy Bi Bo Bu

He hasn’t been an enthusiastic singer today, but that is actually quite unusual for him. I’m confident he’ll sing this with me throughout the week.

What did Zach learn today? How to play Hide and Seek (which teaches counting, patience, looking for things, problem solving, etc.). He also learned some phonics of the letter B.

What did Mommy learn today? Gah! That despite what I have told myself my WHOLE life, I guess I am not as cool as Uncle Chris!

To answer your question: No, Zach does not like to wear pants. Yes, I let him run around in a diaper and a t-shirt. No, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, unless we leave the house that is.