You Stuck WHAT Up Your Nose!?!

The past week has been pretty intense for me. My hormones are crazy, I have been as nauseous as ever, and spent two days partially incapacitated by a migraine. So you can imagine my relief when Friday finally came and I woke up feeling mostly human again. The kids and I spent the morning doing some Easter crafts and spring activities before I let them loose in the backyard to play for an hour before their mandated “Quiet Time” was to begin. One of their favorite outdoor past times is “planting Truffula seeds” in a section of loose rocks that stretches from the back door to the edge of the house (worst landscaping idea ever, silly landlord.). It seems that on Friday, not only were the kids planting Truffula seeds, but the holes they dug in the rocks yielded some new treasures, one of which made its way into our house via the pocket of our 4 year old.

After I got the kids situated for Quiet Time with the special treat of watching a movie together on one of our tablets, I got busy working on some birthday projects for little Pixie’s birthday party. Since we cancelled our cable a couple months back, I have instead been listening to various Ted talks and podcasts on my iPad while crafting. One of my favorite podcasts is Penn’s Sunday School (I love myself some Penn Jillette) and since my husband has been recommending I find an hour and a half to listen to the episode where George Takai talks with Penn about growing up in a Japanese American internment camp, I decided to turn that on while I worked.

About 45 minutes into this amazing interview with George Takai, I hear a blood curdling, death scream, followed by Zoren running out of his sister’s room, finger up his nose, blood covering his hand and dripping down his sleeve. Flipping awesome….

For a split second I was sure it was just a bloody nose until Z says to me, absolutely hysterical, “It’s stuck, it’s stuck. My battery is stuck in my nose and I can’t get it out!” WHAT!?! You stuck WHAT up your freaking nose!?! And then panic started to set in a little and a partition of my brain wandered off to an operating room somewhere imagining the worst case scenario, while I sat on the floor of our living room trying comfort my boy, grabbing handfuls of Kleenex for him to bleed into, and calling my husband repeatedly at work (while he was in the bathroom trying to pee, poor guy) because I was sure this would require an ER visit and our car was parked across town at the Park and Ride.

After I got ahold of my husband and knew he was on his way home, I took a deep breath, flipped off the panic button in my head, and assessed the situation logically, i.e. “zombie apocalypse stye”… I immediately decided that if I ever had a chance of surviving said apocalypse, I should, at a bare minimum, have the skills to remove a foreign object from someones nose or I should at least be trying to do so until Steve got back because, well, what else was I going to do for the next 20 minutes.

So I helped Z calm down and we worked on cleaning all the excess blood out of his nose and once I got a good look in there, I knew I had a decent chance of getting this thing out, hopefully without lodging it even further into his nasal cavity. Risky, yes. But I had to at least try, right? I found and cleaned my “battery” removal tools, a set of long handled tweezers that had rounded ends and a set of short handled tweezers that came to a point, both of which I found in the bottom of my purse. Then I propped Zoren up on the couch with his head tipped back a bit, held the flashlight my mouth to see what I was doing since my hands were otherwise occupied with tweezers and a flailing noggin, and after a couple tries (made more difficult by a screaming and head jerking boy) I was able to dislodge this thing from its perch near the bridge of his nose, just enough for him to blow it out into a piece of paper towel. Phew! Crisis averted.

And it wasn’t even a battery. It was a piece of cable (like for installing cable TV), a black rubber cylinder covering a chunk of metal, not more then a centimeter in height and just about as big around as one of Stori’s hearing aid batteries. He apparently had found it outside while planting Truffula seeds by the house, right below where the cable TV was initially installed back when other renters lived here, and he was pretending it was his battery. And why did he stick it up his nose you ask? Because he wanted to smell it of course.

I must admit, I was pretty proud of myself for getting that thing out and saving us a visit to the ER. So much so that I keep fantasizing about asking our insurance company to float us a couple hundred dollars for saving them from the thousand dollar bill that would have surely been heading their way, if it weren’t for my mad surgical skills. I have also concluded that things are definitely looking up for my chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse and that this is perhaps the best mindset for me to jump into in cases of crisis, because apparently I work pretty well under the imaginary threat of life and limb (or braaaiiins… ). Jeez, I am such a nerd.

Anyway, Zoren is fine and spent the rest of the afternoon alternately telling me how awesome I am for saving him and how scary the situation was. I am hopeful that it taught him an important lesson about why we don’t go shoving small objects up our nose, but he’s a boy, so you never know.

Luckily, the rest of our weekend was uneventful, aside from the foot of snow that we got on Saturday. But I was at least able to get a bunch of birthday projects completed for Pixie’s big day. I can’t believe she is going to be three years old tomorrow!!

Rockin’ Naptime Nest for a Little Ninja

Today is the first day of Spring and we are looking forward to some mild weather this afternoon which will allow us to get out of the house to enjoy the equinox along with a bunch of fun activities we have planned. Hopefully I will get a chance to share some of those on here tomorrow. But first, I wanted to take a moment to post about my most recent sewing venture, which had me up far too late last night, but is finally finished.

I found this basket, mattress, and stand at the thrift store for $15 last month and knew immediately that I had to transform it into a nap time nook for our little guy. We have a co-sleeper to keep our sleeping boy close by at night, but are foregoing a pack and play this time around, opting for this basket/bassinet instead. The portability makes it perfect for summer snoozes outside in the shade and I know Z and Stori will love that they can get close and peer into the basket when it is grounded, allowing them to really get involved and keep a watchful, curious eye on their little brother.

BEFORE:image

AFTER:

imageimage

I bought this great “rock band” and bicycle fabric that not only complement each other, but also tie into other fun sewing plans I have in the works over the next couple months. A lot of the fabric patterns I have chosen for these nursery projects hold an extra special significance to me because, like the name we are choosing for our Little Ninja, they are completely intertwined with music and physics. I will touch more on that at another time, but for now, I hope you like what I did with this sweet basket!!

This bassinet project cost us a total of $25.50. $15 for the thrifty find and $10.50 spent on fabric, elastic for mattress sheets, and velcro for the hanging pocket. Can’t beat that price for a completely one of a kind, totally rockin’ nap time nest, huh?

Happy Spring!!

First Helpings of Spring

The first signs of Spring were all around us toward the end of last week and we could not have been more pleased to be spending our days outside enjoying the changing of seasons. The cool mornings were perfect for walks to the park, quickly turning into warm afternoons spent exploring by the creek or playing in the backyard. We picnicked on blankets while basking in the sunshine and dug through the garden plot in search of pet worms to name. It still feels like a long way off from the hot summer, when our picnics are always shaded and the garden is for watering or picking veggies and bug hunting expeditions have expanded to curious searches under anything that can be lifted or overturned.

Thursday started with a trip to one of the parks in the area. It was much further then I wanted to walk since my hips have been giving me nothing but trouble this pregnancy, but the kids were adamant that the “Big Green Park” was the place to be, so that’s where we went. And it was a good choice. The walk was beautiful as the trail guided us through a still brown but lively section of green space and alongside two creeks. The final patches of snow from the previous weekend were disappearing quickly and the weeks run-off made the usually still creek start to fill and gurgle as water rushed over rocks, making little waterfalls. These creeks seem to love the spring as much as we do. In this drought-laden area, it’s the only time of year they swell and rush from the occasional downpours and melting snow that bring them to life.

We walked over bridges and through an underpass where the creek is at its widest. Zoren practiced his “hip hop tricks” on the slanted concrete leading up to the road while Stori and I watched the ducks splashing in the cold water and listened to the first prairie dogs of the season, two sentinels standing outside their burrows barking alerts to their families as a pair of hungry hawks circled above. I love this section of open space in the springtime because it reminds me of taking walks along The Dredge Bank when I was a kid in Wisconsin.

The Dredge Bank is small road, next to a local lake, that bypassed town and was laden with wildlife and the sounds of water rushing over the dam, into the Fox River. It’s a road in ruin now, just an overgrown shadow of its former self, unable to even be driven on anymore due to excessive flooding about 5 years back. But it is still a place I take the kids every summer we go back to Wisconsin. And we walk together, looking for caterpillars, trying to catch dragonflies and butterflies, and listening to the water as it pours over the dam.

The stretch of open space here, that winds through the nearby section of Big Dry Creek, invokes the same sense of connection with the earth and nature that I felt so many years ago as a kid, out having adventures along the Dredge Bank. It is a little piece of my childhood, right here at home. And the kidlets seems to feel that same connection to this area, always opting for our walks to lead us through this section of trails, always stopping to marvel at its inhabitants, bodies of water, and vegetation. It’s a place of peace and comfort to all of us.

By the time we got to the park, it was already teeming with moms and little ones who were also out taking advantage of the morning sun. It was a nice change from most mornings at the park, when my kids and maybe a couple others are the only people in sight. We stayed for well over an hour and I watched as the kidlets showed off all the their climbing, swinging, and spinning skills.

image image

imageWhen their little bellies started to grumble for some lunch, we started our trek back home through the same winding trails that took us there. Even though we all had tired legs and rumbling tummies, and my hips were sure to give out at any moment, we made it a point to enjoy our walk home. We made up songs about the changing seasons and played the “freeze” game. We stopped at the underpass to say a quick hello/goodbye to the ducks and counted almost 20 huge ant hills that were luckily not yet covered with armies of little foragers.

image

It was a beautiful morning and is precisely how I want to remember our last spring in this neighborhood and probably my last spring being pregnant. There are a lot of changes on the horizon for us over the next few months but for now we are enjoying our days together, making the most of the time we have left in this neighborhood, and looking forward to the new adventures that are waiting for us.

When One Door Closes…

Our weeks generally tend to be a little chaotic and unpredictable, but have been especially so since I found out I was pregnant and morning sickness started kicking my ass. The only exception to this is Wednesday. On Wednesday’s I can count on waking up to the sounds of the vacuum whirring, the hubs pleading with and bribing the kidlets to pick up their toys and put on their clothes, towels and pajamas that should have made it to a laundry basket days ago, being launched down the stairs with an exasperated sigh. These are all very clear indications that, despite my desire to stay in bed and continue ignoring the mess that has gathered over the last few days, Wednesday is upon us and our speech therapist will be arriving in mere hours, so I need to get my butt moving and pull this place together, fast.

By about 8am, showers and breakfasts have happened, along with a pixie chase around the house to secure some kind of tie in her crazy morning hair, and then we turn on some tunes and start the cleaning frenzy. Z likes to listen to Dubstep while we clean, Pixie prefers kids music that she knows the words to, generally opting for the Laurie Berkner Band, and I tend to clean to show tunes or angry girl music (I find that cleaning is much more bearable when one can sing through it). So with the playlist in constant rotation, we dance our way through the house, picking up toys, retrieving snack bowls and cups from under couches and behind play kitchen doors, re-shelving a few days worth of children’s books that are quickly encroaching on every last inch of the hallway floor, sweeping and scrubbing floors, and performing every other task that a good housewife should be doing daily instead of bi-weekly. But you know, that’s how I roll.

Once things are finally looking presentable again, the kids are more then over the dancing and singing and cleaning so we make time for a few games and usually some kind of messy craft before we break for a little nourishment. Wednesday lunches are my favorite because the kids shovel food into their mouthes hastily, making life a little easier on me. Especially considering most lunches consists of more singing, jumping up out of chairs, feeding baby dolls, and constant silly conversation, than actual eating. As soon as lunch is done, we scour the temporarily organized bookshelves for something to read to pass time until…

Knock, knock, knock…. The kids, in unison, start yelling “Marcia! Marcia’s here!! Marcia’s home!! Hi Marcia, we missed you!!” as they bound for the door and open it to greet her. Much rejoicing is had by all and my little cubs are hugging the poor woman to death while talking to her a mile a minute, as she tries to get through the narrow entrance to our house with her piles of toys and bags. And this sweet, sweet speech therapist of ours just smiles and loves right back on them, excited to hear their adventures and triumphs of the previous week. I am going to tell you right now, that I fully believe the Universe worked its magic to ensure that Marcia was placed into our lives. She has not only helped foster the kidlets speech and communication skills, but has been a dear friend and encourager to me and an amazing support for our family when we have needed advice or information.

Things are about to change now as they tend to do when kids get older. Astoria is almost three which means that she will be done with early intervention services, and while she may need a few special accommodations once she is in school (seating in the front of the room or an icom unit for the teacher), she is likely done with all therapies and is way ahead of the game where language and communication is concerned. So we know this is good change and we are so proud of our Pixie for working so hard with her speech and her listening skills. Her most recent communication assessment put her speech and language comprehension and expression at a 4 year, 6 month old level which is absolutely amazing for any child, much less one with hearing loss.

Lucky for us (well in a weird sort of way), instead of ending this post saying how HARD it will be without Marcia, and how epically sad we are to see her services come to an end, another door opened… At Z’s four year check up, our pediatrician noticed some articulation issues in his speech and occasional stuttering. Now these things are no surprise to us and we mostly attribute them to the fact that this little boy’s mind goes about a thousand times faster then his mouth could possibly move to keep up. The silver lining in all of this is that, even though we will have to start paying her privately to come over and give Z speech therapy (Stori’s was provided through our state’s early intervention program), Marcia will still be a fixture in this household, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

image image

Nursery Inspiration

Although we got more then a few inches of snow on Saturday, the blizzard that we had anticipated only ended up lasting a few hours, which was a relief. We got to spend the afternoon celebrating a birthday with friends at our local swimming pool, and as a bonus to my Saturday, I got to do a little fabric shopping and wound up finding some great inspiration for Little Ninja’s future nest.

Here’s what I found:

image

I love this light and yet stormy looking gray with white, mixed in with zings of turquoise, and the subtle greens in these patterns. Also stripes. Horizontal and Chevron stripes will definitely be incorporated into this nursery.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I pretty much suck at planning big projects with multiple pieces. I find that my creativity works at optimum efficiency when I pick one piece to start working on as a jumping off point for further inspiration. The first thing I pictured when choosing these fabrics was little fingers and toes curling against it in little mister’s crib. So I knew I would be starting with a blanket. Yesterday morning, after a wee bit of sketching, I had a layout drawn up and got busy cutting and sewing this monster together. About two hours later…

image

I plan on adding some kind of gray and white stripe backing next weekend after another fabric browsing excursion. I found a couple that I liked, but wanted to get the front done first to see which will work better. I am also toying with the idea of binding the blanket with black trim because I think it will really make the turquoise stand out. Stay tuned for an update on the blanket and for other posts involving this nursery project over the next couple months!

I also made a few burp clothes and cloth wipes with some of the leftover scraps from this and from a couple receiving blankets I made yesterday. The robot/science fabric on the burp cloths below is also another weekend find and one of my favorites.

image

Here is one more fun fabric I nabbed and absolutely adore but am still unsure what to use for. Brainstorming ideas for these cute little birdies today!

image

Happy Monday!

Rock in the Weekend Project- Ice Packs and Bean Bags

Friday’s tend to be a project day in our house because we like to end our week and usher in our weekend with a little flair. Since we are preparing for a snowstorm this weekend, I thought it would fun to make some rice filled ice packs for the kids (which they have been asking me to make for months). They can also double as bean bags for some tossing games we can play indoors. This is a really simple and inexpensive sewing project as it only uses some scrap fabric and a bag of rice. I used some long grain white rice that we’ve had since before we switched over to eating only whole grains and some flannel fabric squares from my scrap collection. I got the kids involved by letting them pick the fabric and spoon rice into each of their bags. It was certainly a little messy but we had fun.

IMG_0394

 

Here’s how we did it:

Materials:
- scrap fabric (2 pieces per bag), cut into squares or rectangles, or get creative and cut them into something more interesting, like owlets.
-sewing machine, and minimal sewing skills
- a bag of rice, I suggest long grain white rice because it is inexpensive

Directions:

1. Lay the two halves of your bag on top of one another with the right sides facing each other like this:

IMG_0450

IMG_0452

 

2. Sew all the way around leaving a gap of about 2″ in one section to pour rice into.

IMG_0454

3. Turn right side out and fill 1/2 to 3/4 full of rice, depending on desired weight.

IMG_0464

4. Close the opening by pinning it together and sewing it closed. This is difficult to do if your bag is too full so be mindful of that during step 3.

IMG_0466IMG_0467

Since I had a huge bag of rice and plenty left over, I thought the kids would enjoy playing with it which created a great opportunity talk about measurements with them. I dug out a bunch of measuring cups, measuring spoons, and some containers for them to fill up with rice and let them play while we talked about simple measurements and fractions. It was a lot of fun and we only ended up getting about 1/2 cup of rice on the floor, so not much of a loss there. It was well worth the 45 minutes of sensory play!

IMG_0397 IMG_0399 IMG_0410

 

I hope all of you have a great weekend!!

-Erica

Taking a Step Back

The unusually mild winter in our area has made the past four months of nearly constant morning sickness a little more bearable because the kids have been able to get out and burn off some energy, while I relax, enjoy the sunshine, and allow myself to be present for my sweet cubs. As lovely as it would be to say that every day was spent in that sort of appreciative bliss, it wouldn’t be the truth. Certainly more days in recent months have been spent inside instead of outside, with me on the couch playing patient to two doctors, conducting story time from my horizontal perch, or eating plastic meals and desserts prepared by my two enthusiastic chefs. We have watched The Lorax and Tinkerbell movies far too many times and usually opted for picnics on the floor of the living room instead of at the table so I didn’t have to leave the couch.

Despite being in this haze of nausea and having life thrown a little off kilter for awhile, I have been in pretty good spirits. I am focusing more on leaning into the natural ebb and flow of our day to day lives, relying on the kids built in curiosities to drive the direction of our focus, doing more spontaneous projects and experiments, and less scheduling and planning of activities. This has afforded us all a certain sense of freedom with our time and energy and although there are things that tend to be sacrificed (like keeping ahead of the laundry and cleaning), the reward of having less stress each day is totally worth it, right now.

We have taken this week at a snails pace so far, allowing ample time for creativity and imagination to take the place of our once normal schedules. The shamrock activity we did on Monday went over really well, but we still haven’t gotten around to the decorating and displaying part of things. Mostly because the kids just want to use the shamrocks for hiding, hunting, sorting and counting on their own now. And that is fine by me. They both seem to have other drawing priorities when the markers come out anyway, and aren’t interested in instruction from me. So I have given them free reign to create as they please and the results have been absolute perfection.

Astoria likes to trace her hands, and color the palms of each hand with whatever color she is currently fixated on. Her paper is always covered in big loopy fingers and swollen thumbs, “ghost hands” as she calls them. Her coloring time is generally short-lived as she is far more interested in playing dress up, practicing her unicorn riding skills while mastering her high heeled princess walk. She goes from room to room on her stick unicorn, acknowledging all of her subjects, which she usually lines up along her parade route, waving and throwing silk flower petals in their direction, occasionally stoping by her favorite dolls and stuffed animals for a big hug. Then she brings out the stool from the bathroom sink and steps up onto her soap box for a long and very important royal speech which always begins with the same announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Here is your Princess Astoria Miss Stodola” (yes, that’s actually what she calls herself, silly girl)… And she follows that up with either a long commentary on her experiences of the day or a nice made up song and dance number. It is spectacular.image image image

Zoren is right in the middle of a creativity and engineering explosion. His drawings are complex, deliberate, and very important to him. He creates entire worlds on paper with detailed explanations as to what every line, color, and shape represents. He constantly designs levels to his favorite critical thinking games on the Xoom, World of Goo and Where’s my Water. He draws ladders, pipes, pumps, levers, gears, and pulleys all connecting to one another to form, what he sees, as the perfect new level to his game. He also loves to draw his own complex contraptions. Grandiose machines that will do things like take his laundry to the hamper so he doesn’t have to, or clean up the toys that he doesn’t want to deal with. Now, I have no idea if this is a “normal” type of thing for 4 year olds to do, but it absolutely amazes me. I am sure, at that age, I was probably barely able to draw some stick figures in a house, much less a theoretically fully functioning mechanism with direction and purpose.

image

These expressions of creativity, imagination, and ingenuity are exactly what I want to foster in my little ones. I want them to see the world as an open platform with which they can expand upon freely, without limitations or instruction from others. I am thankful that this pregnancy has given me a reason to slow down and take a step back from expectations I have for myself as a stay at home mom. It has made me see, that although planning learning activities and projects to do with them is integral in preparing them for school and something we will continue to do in the future, it is also important to take a step back and let them discover and create on their own.

Skill Building with Shamrocks- A St. Patrick’s Day Activity for Preschoolers and Toddlers

Since St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner, I figured it would be fun share one of our favorite March activities. Today we are having our yearly shamrock hunt, but this time we are doing things a little differently as the kids are getting older and each have different skills that we are focusing on developing. The nice thing about this activity is that it can be modified to be appropriate for both toddlers and preschoolers (ages about 18 months to 5 years, give or take) so I will share how we have adapted it over the last few years to focus on different ages and on building different skills.

Materials:
-A computer with the internet and printer (or some mad shamrock drawing skills)
-Green paper (different shades are optional, or white paper with some green markers for shamrock coloring)
-scissors
-stickers, markers, crayons, glue, glitter (optional)
-basket, bucket, or bowl for shamrock collection
-containers for shamrock sorting (optional)
-creativity

20130308-153134.jpg
For toddlers:
One of the first important skills to work on with toddlers is following simple one or two step directions. This skill opens the door to so many fun activities and projects (and eventually to the self cleaned room of a preschooler) so I think it’s a good skill to start with. Here is what we did:

1. Get online and do a google search for a “shamrock template” to print out. There are a ton out there and available to print so it shouldn’t be hard to find. When the kids were toddlers, I chose a template that had shamrocks which were all the same size and shape and I chose to print out about 12-16 shamrocks on some festive kelly green paper. Then cut them all out (this is the most tedious part of the project).

2. Get a bucket, basket, or bowl to place in the middle of whatever room you are using for this activity. Then go hide all of the shamrocks around the room. For younger toddlers, you may want to hide them in plain sight at first so they can warm up to the concept of having to find something, especially if this is their first encounter with this kind of activity.

3. Bring in your toddler and explain to them what you expect them to do: find a green shamrock, then put it in the basket… Then demonstrate this for them and cheer and clap for yourself when you find one and again when you get it into the basket. Then ask them to do the same. They may need some help and guidance at first but you’d be surprised how quickly they will catch on, especially with continuous positive reinforcement from you. They may want you to hide them again and again, or they may get bored and decide they’ve had enough. Either way, this is a great way to introduce some basic direction following, while keeping it a fun and positive experience for your toddler. And remember, sometimes kids need to see and try things numerous times before they understand or have interest in it so if your tot isn’t into this activity at first, it doesn’t mean they never will be.

We first did this with Zoren when he was about 14 months old, and although it was a hot mess of direction following at first, he got the hang of it pretty quickly and we ended up hiding, finding, and basketing shamrocks for about 20 minutes before he got bored.

How to expand on this activity with your toddler:
- give them a chance to do the hiding of the shamrocks for you to run around and find.
- talk to them about the color of the shamrocks, mentioning they are green each time he/she finds one for awhile, then proposing the question, “Yay! You found another one! What color is the shamrock?” after they have heard you repeat the color to them multiple times.
-make it a point to lay the shamrocks out after the hunt, maybe in sets of three or five and count each set with your toddler, then count them all together. This is a great way to introduce counting to your toddler.
-once they have the hang of it and are ready for more of a challenge you can really start to have fun and expand on skill building by introducing a different color or size in the mix, along with containers for sorting. Once all the shamrocks are found you can sit down with your toddler and help him/her sort the two colors or two sizes into separate containers.

For preschoolers:

1. Just as with toddlers, we start by locating a shamrock template online. Google search “shamrock template”, find one or more that you want to use, and print them out. This year I chose two templates with different sized shamrocks on them and used three different shades of green construction paper to print them on. So we have a total of 18 small shamrocks in varying shades of green, and 9 large shamrocks in the same varying shades of green.

2. Hide all of the shamrocks, and make it a little difficult with only tiny parts of green sticking out to alert them, or make it really difficult for older preschoolers and hide them completely out of sight.

3. Call in your preschooler(s), give them a bucket, and let the hunting begin.

4. Once all of the shamrocks have been found, it’s time for a little skill building. Have an open discussion about the similarities and differences between the shamrocks. Provide containers for sorting and ask them to sort out the shamrocks without much instruction. This will allow them to use their own problem solving skills and allow them to choose how they want to sort things. Then ask them to sort again with more direction from you, i.e. sort by shade of green, or sort by size, or sort by both color and size. Also ask them to count how many shamrocks they have sorted into each container, then to count them all together. You can also make simple addition problems using the shamrocks, which I something I plan to do with Zoren today, because he is really interested in math.

5. Turn it into a crafty project. Once everyone is bored with the hunting and sorting, it’s time to decorate the shamrocks to display for the holiday. Be creative and use whatever you have to decorate them. Younger kids will be happy with some stickers and crayons, and older preschoolers may want to take the glue and glitter route. Once they are done, let the kids decorate their rooms with them, or hang some up on the fridge, whatever floats your boat. We keep a long doubled string of yarn hanging up in the kids playroom with tiny clothespins attached so we can hang up all of their seasonal creations.

I hope you get a chance to try some version of this with your little ones, because it really is a lot of fun for everyone! If you have any other fun ideas on how to expand on this activity even more, please let me know! I am always looking for new things to incorporate that encourage learning in an engaging way!

20130305-182605.jpg20130305-182645.jpg20130305-182659.jpg20130305-182715.jpg

-Erica.

A Weekend of Sun and Sutures…

Our Saturday was fun and relaxing, and luckily afforded me time to play catch-up with some housework since we didn’t have anywhere in particular to be. We also did a little shopping for our Little Ninja, letting the kids each pick out a special gift to give him upon arrival (yes, Little Ninja is this baby’s official title until we can actually find a name we agree on). And we decided it was time to bite the bullet and sign up for a Costco membership, something we have talked about doing for a couple years now.

After a week of cold and snow, we were all ecstatic that it hit 60 degrees before noon on Saturday and took that as an invitation to spend the afternoon outside. Astoria insisted on digging out some of the baby gear that we have stored in the garage, along with her stroller, purse, and blankets so we could take care of her baby doll. She is such a precious little mama and I never tire watching her nurture her babies. She alternated between rocking her doll in the baby chair, feeding her with the collection of bottles she hoards in her purse, practicing her swaddling skills, singing bedtime songs, and pushing her doll all over the neighborhood at top speed.

Zoren was immediately drawn to the tiny creek of water that had formed in the gutter by the road as it rushed down the slope of our cul-de-sac, making new paths through the remaining unmelted snow. My brilliant husband decided that this was most definitely the perfect time for a little science lesson. The two of them spent hours building dams of snow to form a splash pool, experimenting with how fast or slow the water would rush through the snow river banks they created by changing the width of the creek bed, and talking about erosion, momentum, temperature, and the changing states of matter. Watching Steve and Zoren bond over their loves of science and engineering was absolutely fantastic and made this momma a little teary.

20130304-072443.jpg

20130304-072600.jpg

20130304-073115.jpg

20130304-073146.jpg

20130304-073156.jpg

20130304-073218.jpg

With as laid back as Saturday was, I should have known that Sunday would bring the drama. I woke up later then normal and was incredibly grateful that my husband had taken care of the kids morning routine, even making them some waffles for breakfast. I laid in bed for awhile, trying to catch up on some articles I have been meaning to read, when I heard a super loud THUMP come from above, followed quickly by an equally loud “Oh, shit!” from Steve in his ‘something really bad just went down’ voice. I immediately flew out of bed, far too quickly for my still temperamental round ligaments to handle and they screamed at me as I made my way upstairs, half doubled over in pain, while my husband yelled down to me for help. I assumed that Z had fallen and held his breath until he stopped breathing momentarily, which is really freaky but something he has done since his first injury. Although my heart skips a beat every time it happens, at least we know how to handle it. To my surprise, I came up the stairs to find a breathing boy with a trail of blood starting to make it way down his left cheek, originating from a nice sized gash above his eyebrow.

I immediately knew that this injury was going to require more then just some kisses and a band aid, so I wiped off the blood and taped some gauze over the gaping wound while Steve gathered coats and slippers. By the time we piled into the car to head out to urgent care, Zoren had already calmed down and the tears were gone. Despite the fact that we only had about 20 miles left on this gas tank, the 20 minute drive out to Children’s Hospital North was uneventful and quick. Luckily, the waiting room was empty sans the receptionists (apparently everyone else in the area was having a much safer breakfast experience) so we got taken back to a room immediately after they took Zoren’s vitals. As it turns out, his gash was much deeper then I thought, requiring stitches instead of glue. They put some gel and a bandage on his head to numb the area, which was a relief because I was sure they would be pulling out a big needle at any moment. The four of us spent the next half hour playing games and reading books on the Xoom and iPad before the technician came in to clean up Z’s head and prep him for stitches. The five stitches went in pretty slowly and I held tight to our brave boy’s hands the whole time as he struggled to stay calm though the fear and pain of being sutured. He cried a little when the doctor put in the last couple stitches, which were on the outside edges where the numbing gel didn’t take effect as well, but he was so tough and I was beyond proud.

20130304-072919.jpg

20130304-072930.jpg
After we were discharged with some care instructions, we made a stop at the store for some kids ibuprofen and of course, ice cream. Because ice cream makes everything better, or so I am told. And the rest of the day progressed just as uneventfully as we could hope for. Sure, Zoren insisted on jumping around the house and doing every dangerous activity that he could get away with, clearly unphased by the mornings events but at least there were no more injuries. My husband and I had a good laugh while reading the after care instructions for his sutures, one of which reads: “Do not allow patient to perform any tasks that require coordination for the next 24 hours”. Ha! I am still amused by that one.

Things I have learned from this experience:
1. I can totally remain cool, calm, and collected in a minor crisis situation, which is a vast improvement from our last head injury incident, which was suffered by Astoria and required a forehead glueing. I cried more then she did and totally panicked when I saw her head wound (which was less then a centimeter), not even able to think clearly enough to call the doctor without prompting from my husband.

2. Children’s Hospital never seems to disappoint. This is only our second trip there for an urgent issue and both of our experiences have been more then satisfactory. Every single doctor, nurse, technician, and even custodian that we encounter knows exactly how to relate to kids. Not once did someone poke or prod or touch Z without explaining, to him, not us, exactly what they would be doing and how it would feel.

3. Despite all the dangerous things that these kids do every single day, and despite my anxiety when watching them take these risks, the worst injuries they have incurred always seem to come from mundane things, like breakfast. Go figure.

-Erica

… And it’s a Ninja Boy!!

Yesterday was an enchanted and soul nourishing, super slice of awesome at the end of my week. It was the day of my 20 (well really 23) week ultrasound. I am convinced the doctors and universe made me wait these extra three weeks just to spite me for having a severe lack of patience in the gender verification department. But it was well worth the wait.

Within the first minute of my ultrasound, the black and white screen clearly confirmed what I have felt since the beginning of this pregnancy; our newest little kidlet is a boy!!

I immediately looked over to Zoren and we shared a sparkly-eyed moment of satisfaction as he completely lit up, letting out a squeal of delight. This was exactly what he had been hoping for and his elation was practically tangible as he bobbed up and down on his chair, grinning from ear to ear. Big sister was not quite as enthusiastic. In fact, her face immediately wrinkled into a scowl and the first words out of her mouth were “Aww, man! I wanted a girl”. Luckily, she has quickly warmed up to the idea of having a little brother and proclaimed that she will be changing all of his diapers, picking out all of his clothes, and taking very good care of him. Which I am sure she will do… at least the picking out his clothes part.

As for me, I am definitely excited to be having another boy. I felt so connected during those moments in the ultrasound room, yesterday. Connected to my sweet husband who spent much of that hour calming antsy children. Connected to my big brother and big sister cubs as I remembered my ultrasounds with each of them, pulling those same feelings of anticipation and excitement into our shared experience this time around. And connected to this little boy growing, moving, and thriving inside of me, my heart already overflowing with buckets of love for him.

I found such a sense peace while watching our little guy move around like a ninja on the monitor. His legs stretched straight out, then he kicked one foot up by his head followed shortly by the other foot. He started sucking on his hand for a second and then it shot out of his mouth and down to grab his tiny toes, before flying back up in a series of kung fu style hand motions in which I could see each bone of each finger absolutely perfectly. Every time the technician moved her magic wand for a different view, this baby would react by launching strong kicks and wee elbows in its direction, clearly irritated by the disturbance. I could have literally sat in that room all day, chatting with our super cool ultrasound technician, and watching our baby perform his own ninja ballet. It was perfection.

The rest of my day was frosting. Great conversation, baby shopping, mama shopping, and lunch with one of my best friends, who also happens to be pregnant with her second son. To me, this meant some much needed time away from the chaos at home to enjoy friendship and camaraderie, remembering what it feels like to let the stress of motherhood melt away for a few hours. We treated ourselves to some awesome belly dance finds and browsed designer purses at an upscale consignment store, spending much of our time laughing and talking and appreciating the opportunity to share one another’s company, without interruption from kids or husbands.

I returned home to two rambunctious preschoolers, and one tired looking daddy who were all very glad to see me. I was happy to see them, too. We spent the last hour before bedtime sitting together on the couch, coming up with boy names we liked, which were mostly vetoed by the kidlets. Then they started proposing names of their own, which mostly sounded like a bunch of nonsense (like “ah, lo, me, ah, nah”), before collapsing into a pile of hysterical giggles. It was a perfectly silly and fun way to end the day, like rainbow sprinkles on top of my frosting.

20130301-073614.jpg

20130301-092059.jpg

20130301-092122.jpg
See, I told you she was warming up to the idea of a little brother!

-Erica