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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 10: Apple Pancakes April 28, 2010

Filed under: cooking,language development,letters — Erin Brambilla @ 4:58 pm
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Moving along with our Letter A theme this week, we made some applesauce pancakes this morning for breakfast. Cooking with Zach is one of my favorite activities to do with him. He seems to enjoy it as well. Watch out Emeril, Bobby and Tyler…Zach is coming through!

To begin, I started out with a recipe I found online: Mom’s Applesauce Pancakes. The only issue was that I didn’t have any pancake mix, as it calls for in the recipe. So, I also followed this one, up until the addition of wet ingredients: Good Old Fashioned Pancakes. So, taking the dry ingredients from the second recipe, I then followed the 1st one for the rest. I think using a homemade pancake mix is better anyway. Bisquick and other types of mixes have partially hydrogenated oils in them. Did you know that? Partially hydrogenated oils = trans fat = bad. And since it’s pretty much just as easy to take a few cups of flour and add a few teaspoons of baking powder as it is to scoop out some Bisquick, there’s really no love lost by making it yourself (and now I’ll step off of my ‘make things from scratch’ soap box). I had intended to use whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, but I didn’t have enough. Add that to the grocery list, please!

So, together with my assistant, we mixed up the ingredients.

Dumping in the flour

Stir, stir, stir

The process was pretty fun today. Zach is starting to become much more involved in it. Rather than just doing what I tell him, he’s beginning to recognize ingredients and what to do with them. For instance, he can crack an egg. That’s right, this crazy mom lets her 2-year-old crack eggs. With my hand VERY close by, he taps it gently on the counter, I take it from him to separate the shell and pour into the bowl. He’s also started asking questions with ingredients he may not recognize, like baking powder. I got out the container, and he said, “What is it?” and I said, “Baking powder”, and he said, “Oh,” as if that’s all the explanation he needed. Then I had to kindly ask him to stop sticking his finger in the bowl of baking powder and flour, it was SO not ready to taste yet! However, after the addition of other yummy stuff, a finger full might not be so bad. All good cooks taste first, right?

Let's see, does it need anything? Nope. It's just right.

While we were adding the Applesauce, today’s star ingredient, I was talking about A is for Apple, Apple Pancakes!! I chanted it over and over again. And he said, “Letter A. Animal Crackers!” As if I couldn’t be proud enough of that recollection alone, he added a NEW “A” word. He said, “Letter A. Awesome!”

Um…YES! Letter A IS for Awesome! Holy Moly. The kid is a genius!! I’m thinking he connected that one from the incredible Fridge Phonics song we sang on Monday (“An A Says ‘Ah!'”). Ah… Awesome. Very similar sounding! It’s truly amazing to see their little brains working right in front of your very eyes!!

So, we sang and talked and he played awhile while I cooked our breakfast. They turned out pretty yummy!

Yummy! Pay no attention to that burnt one on the bottom!

As we were eating, I asked Zach if the pancakes were yummy. And he decided that he’s now much too smart and sophisticated for a juvenile word like “yummy” because he told me that they were, “delicious!”.

Mmmm. Delicious!

I had another craft on the to-do list for today, but Zach was in a much more sing-songy mood. He got out his Alphabet Pal toy, switched it to music mode and sat and sang with me all morning. In an effort to let HIM lead the way when possible, I ditched the craft and sang away. Maybe we’ll be more crafty tomorrow!

What did Zach learn today? For starters, how to make pancakes. He also worked on more phonics of the letter A. And recollected some learning from earlier this week. Let’s not forget the addition of “delicious” to the vocab.

What did Mommy learn today? That the mind of a 2-year-old is amazing!

What are you all learning right NOW? I’m ditching the numbers in each day’s title. It’s looking too busy up there. If you MUST know how many minutes have passed for this number of days: take the day number, multiply by 1440. There you have it. Today takes us through 14400 minutes of this year.

 

Day 7 (8641-10080m): Superman Sunday April 25, 2010

Filed under: colors,daddy,language development,numbers — Erin Brambilla @ 8:58 pm
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Sunday has started becoming grocery shopping day for me. Mostly because Pete is home to watch the 3 munchkins and I can go by myself. I’m not opposed or incapable of bringing the 3 of them along. I once went to Target with all 3 kids and tried on a bazillion outfits in the fitting room. Yep. With 2 babies and a 2 year old with me. And nobody cried. It was almost a miracle. Perhaps if I could have  found clothes that fit it would have been an actual miracle, but that’s a story that’s neither here nor there. I digress! At any rate, I went shopping by myself which brings a welcome break for me, plus I can do things about 100 times faster, and Pete gets some bonding time with the kids.

I don’t really know what goes on during these bonding sessions. I do know that he managed to feed and diaper them all appropriately AND straighten the living room. Wow. He’s almost good enough to be me (but don’t tell HIM that). All I know is that when I came home, the 2 babies were cooing away on the playmat and Zach declared himself to be “Superman!!!” and “Daddy a cool dude!” Clearly, sometime in the 2 hours I was gone, a vocabulary lesson took place. After running over to hug me and inspect the wares of the grocery bags, Zach went back to playing the Official Superman Home Game. You know, the one where you run down the hall as fast as you can, into your Daddy’s waiting arms, and he lifts you skyward as you sing-shout, “Superman!!!” It’s just as funny as it is cute!

Running down the hall

SUPERMAN!

Aside from a new game, today’s learning experience is another ingenious, super easy to do activity. Have you ever seen something and thought, “That is SO stinkin’ brilliant, why didn’t *I* think of that???” This is one of those situations. I found it HERE. If you haven’t been to the “No Time For Flashcards” site, go there. Now. The author is probably going to be getting a lot of pingbacks/linkbacks from me because it is FULL of good ideas! Anyhow, for this activity (or as I like to call it, a Cooking Dinner Distraction) all I did was take the magnetic numbers collection I had hidden away and a cookie sheet, put them together and voila! Number learning fun. I nearly threw these numbers out months ago because they don’t stick to our fridge so well, they just kept sliding down to the floor. But, for some reason, I saved them and I’m glad I did. Zach had oodles of fun counting the numbers, grouping the numbers and…well…flinging a few across the kitchen floor!

Magnets grouped by color

I’ll have to find a set of letters to go with the numbers for additional learning opportunities. Oh, and do you think my child has learned the ins and outs of mommy blogging already? As he was working he looked up at me and said, “Camera, mommy?” I think I’m creating a monster!

What did Zach learn? A few new phrases and words. Number recognition. A color lesson. And that Daddy is one “cool dude”. “Awesome!”

What did Mommy learn? Well, that Daddy is actually pretty cool and can handle himself very well with 3 kids. This, of course, I already knew, but a reminder is always refreshing. I also learned that my kid is a total ham and I love it!

 

Day 6 (7201-8640m): Car Wash April 24, 2010

Filed under: language development,sensory,water play — Erin Brambilla @ 5:48 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Don’t even try to tell me you don’t immediately start singing the song in your head at the very mention (or…reading) of the words “Car Wash”. “(Workin’ at the) car wash. Workin’ at the car wash, yeah!” Try getting THAT out of your head for the rest of the day. We did the car wash at 11:30 this morning. It’s 5:11pm now and I’m still singing it. Welcome to my world.

Today was the kind of day where, if I didn’t have kids, I would have stayed in bed watching movies all day. It’s grey and gloomy and just begs your body to be tired. Unless you’re 2. Then you’re up at the crack of 6:00am anyway. No rest for the wicked in this house! I wondered if I’d have the energy for any special activities today, but after a few time outs (“Zach, put the dog food back please! No! Listen to Mommy, don’t you dare dump that on the carpet!!!”), a few temper tantrums and a few headaches later, I decided the boredom that was leading to bad behavior needed to be stopped STAT. What could possibly work quick enough to salvage this lazy day? Bowls of water and permission to splash in them, that’s what!

I set up a little car wash in the kitchen today, which I read about HERE. Another sensory tub type of exercise, just with the added bonus that his toys were getting cleaned as well. Hey, I’ll take an added benefit when I can! Today’s activity was super simple, but super fun for Zach.

I gathered together 2 bowls, a few garbage bags (to serve as a waterproof drop cloth), some dish soap, a few kinds of scrubbing and drying tools and some water. I asked Zach to take his bucket and gather up his cars. It was time to take them to the car wash.

Today's Supplies

The Set-Up

To make it more than just a splash fest, I decided one bowl should be cold water and one should be warm. The warm one had the soap in it. I thought I might get myself a few seconds to talk about the senses before everything just got mixed up and tepid. So we talked about warm and cold. How the soap smelled. How the scrubbers felt. How the water sounded as it “sloshed” and “splashed”. It was a good effort on my part, LOL! Then it was just time to play.

Scrubbing and rinsing the blue car

Just playing

Oh…pay no heed to dusty floors or toys on the floor in the background. Let that be the answer to your question, “But Erin. How do you manage to have time for all this??” And also, yes…Zach is wearing the same outfit as yesterday. That’s what happens when Daddy dresses him :). At least it was pretty much clean!

This activity kept him busy for about 30 minutes. And in toddler world, that might as well be 2 days.  Then, he was in a much more civil mood afterward and was able to be a civilized person and hang out with Daddy the rest of the day. In fact, it got so quiet around here I wondered what was going on. I stepped outside to find this:

I'm just glad I was upstairs while he wielded the hose with delight!

I guess playing with water was the theme of the day!!

What was in it for Zach? Exploring his senses, as well as something to solve the boredom. I bet even kids need to feel productive!

What did Mommy learn? That water is close to a miracle worker in so many ways :). Bad behavior and tantrums aren’t always about being naughty, sometimes they are just from sheer boredom. And this was so easy to set up, I can see this buying me time to make dinner in the future :).