Wednesday, September 26, 2012

National Pancake Day, Take 2

So, although I had to work all day, our nanny and Grammi took it upon themselves to celebrate National Pancake Day today!  They were so very creative and had a blast.  I was lucky enough to get a video of the process sent to me in the middle of my work day.  Gave me a big giant smile and made me a little jealous that they were having such a wonderful time without me!

Below are some of the pictures.  They made Pumpkin Pancakes!  Not flavored pumpkin, but rather Jack-O-Lanterns!  Too cute.

In case you are curious... carrot stem, candy eyes, cantaloup nose, red pepper mouth, all attached with Nutella!

Monday, September 24, 2012

National Pancake Day

In honor of National Pancake Day this coming Wednesday (September 26), we decided to make pancakes this weekend!  Making pancakes on Wednesday is not realistic for us because I have to work all day, but Sunday, now that's the PERFECT pancake day.

Zayit slept in until 6:30, ah... it's a good day.  We headed downstairs and gathered our ingredients together and started cooking.  Well, sort of.  It seems that Mommi hard boiled all the eggs the day before!  Ugh.  Zayit and Mommi convinced the most amazing Daddy that it would be a great idea to run to the local convenience store and grab some eggs.  What a good guy he is!  While Daddy was off getting eggs, Zayit and I started measuring.  I've found that when working with a toddler, it's best to do the measuring into separate containers and let him pour into the main bowl.  We used a very traditional, non-healthy recipe, but it makes the BEST pancakes!  (and even though it isn't the best, it is HFCS free)

2 cups Bisquick
1 1/3 cups milk
1 egg (thanks to Daddy!)
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I use pure vanilla bean paste - much better without the alcohol)

Up into his Learning Tower he climbed and immediately started examining his ingredients...

After digging his fingers in the Bisquick, he poured in the sugar and the milk...

...and he had a lot of fun cracking the egg!  (I had him crack it into an empty bowl so we could fish out the egg shell that went in, then he poured the egg into the big bowl... worked perfectly)

The empty egg carton was put to good use with color/size sorting of pom-poms while I cooked on the hot stove.  Zayit isn't quite ready to be near the stove.  He was completely satisfied sorting.

Zayit reminded me that we couldn't forget the pancake molds.  Today was Cookie Monster day.

Everyone enjoyed!  Even Ziva, who is now loving her finger foods!

 Don't be afraid to cook with your Littles!  Involving them in daily chores and activities is very helpful for their development.  I find that Zayit is much more willing to try things if he has participated in making them.

Happy National Pancake Day!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody, Everywhere....

So, I'm sure most of you know the "clean up" song, if you don't, you should learn it fast!  Cleaning up is always much more fun when you sing a song.  We used to sing it all the time with Zayit, but recently it hasn't been heard in our house.  He cleans up on his own now without our constant encouraging.

This morning, he accidentally spilled his milk all over the floor in his playroom.  Ugh.  I decided today was the day that he could advance to cleaning up messy spills.  I had created a "clean up bucket" for him and had it sitting on the counter for just the right moment.  This was it!  Out came the Clean Up Bucket!

The Clean Up Bucket contains a mini broom and dustpan, half used roll of paper towels, sponge, 3 colorful microfiber cloths and a spray bottle filled with 95% water and a tiny bit of non-toxic cleaning solution (enough to make bubbles in the bottle if shaken.)

He thought this was the bomb!  First he cleaned up his spilled milk and then moved on to cleaning the kitchen!  Ok, well, cleaning his kitchen.  It was so cute!  The microwave was cleaned inside and out, the window cleaned, the cabinet doors, the coffee pot, essentially the entire play kitchen got sprayed and wiped.  He was having so much fun spraying and wiping, that I sent him outside to clean the mailbox!  I think I might have to take advantage of this stage!

All this play and he is learning practical life skills at the same time!  Now, if only I could get him to clean the real kitchen!

(update: we have been loving our Clean Up Bucket!  Zayit asks for it all the time.  I have learned to be patient with the excessive sprays and encouraging that he wipe up all the wet areas until they are dry.  This morning he took the paper towels - first towel in hand - and walked around the house with the entire roll trailing behing him as it unrolled.  It was completely adorable and so funny!  Both Daddy and I were laughing out loud and running for our cameras!)

Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere,
Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Great Outdoors

I sometimes find it frustrating that we spend so much time indoors and being busy.  I think that many kids these days miss out on playing in the woods and learning about the world around them.  Too often, parents will turn to some sort of 'screen' to occupy their children so they can get things done.  I admit to being guilty of this at times, especially in the evening so that Daddy and I can have a few minutes to eat our dinner (I would love to do dinners together, but during the week, the Littles eat about an hour before Daddy gets home from work.)  It's always refreshing when we get outside, and recently we had the opportunity to go on a little hike through the woods to an amazing waterfall.  Zayit had such a fun time and it was awesome to watch him bond with Daddy.  

The water was quite chilly, but that didn't prevent Zayit from getting right in and having a taste!

We did a little walking on the rocks and getting our feet wet.  Zayit spent a good half an hour hunting for good rocks to throw back into the water.

It was an afternoon well spent and enjoyed by all.  I think someone was a little tired on the way home :)

Go outside and play with your kids this weekend!  I promise you... you will enjoy it.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Oooey, Gooey, Eggs!

I always keep eggs in my fridge, but I don't always get to use them.  I hate to throw food away, but our recent batch of eggs was way beyond it's "fresh by" date.  They had to go.  Instead of just chucking them, we had an impromptu messy sensory experience.  Zayit learned how to crack eggs open!  

It was quite the fun time!  Zayit climbed up into his Learning Tower and had a blast making a slimy mess.  I asked him to open one of the eggs - the reaction was adorable.  He tried squeezing really really hard, making funny sounds and everything.  He was completely unsuccessful.  I showed him how to gently tap the side of a bowl to crack the egg.  Since we all know a toddler's definition of "gentle"... well, I'm sure you can imagine what happened next!  He was VERY successful at cracking egg shells after my brief tutorial.  He did really well at keeping the eggs in the bowl and the clean up wasn't too bad.  

Not only did he learn to crack an egg open, but after cracking 8 eggs open, he dug his hands into the slimy, oooey, gooey eggs!  My child who hated slime and wet sensory experiences thoroughly enjoyed the feel of eggs.  He played with the yolks, loved the patterns that were created when the yolks broke open and practiced separating the white from the yellow.  

This was much more fun than just throwing them away!  

...And, He's Off!

My little dude is growing up!  Today was his first day of preschool.  Bittersweet.  I'm excited that he is getting bigger and maturing, but sad because I feel like he will be leaving for college before I blink an eye!  He was very excited to go, all up until Mommi and Daddy walked out of the room... then came the tears  :(

I had made him a little photo book of his school.  A couple weeks ago, he and I went for a short visit and I snapped some pics of his school and different areas of his classroom.  It wasn't completely set up yet, but the stations were there.  I printed up the pictures and laminated them and then put them together with a binder ring.  We took this little book with us on vacation last week and he loved looking at the pictures and talking all about his school.  There was even a picture of the potty (important for a little dude who is recently potty trained!)  When we got there this morning, he walked right in and made himself at home.  He had been talking about a child sized washer and dryer that they had all week, and that was the first thing he went to!  So cute.

I also gave him a little felt heart to keep in his pocket to remember that his Mommi and Daddy love him very much and will be back soon to pick him up.  He liked the idea of having something in his pocket (and loved that it was a rainbow! - huge fascination right now), but I'm not sure he understood the idea behind it.  I reminded him it was there before I left.  I'm thinking I'll let the teachers know next week that he has it so they can remind him as well if he starts to feel sad.  I've contemplated cutting up one of his blankies (we have a spare!) into a smaller size so he can keep a piece of that in his pocket... hmmm..

We did a little photo shoot before leaving for school.  He loves being the subject of Mommi's camera and gave me all sorts of cute smiles and poses.

I hope everyone else had a great first day of school this year!

Monday, September 3, 2012

How We Stayed Happy During Our 5 Hour Road Trip

Our family just ventured out on a lovely road trip to New Hampshire.  It was a much needed "vacation." (I put that in quotes, because if you have traveled with children, you know it is anything but a "vacation."  Now that we are home, my husband and I want to know when our "real" vacation is!)  I was worried about the long drive - 5 hours - with an almost 3 year old toddler and 6 month old infant.  I searched the internet for ideas and made a couple visits to the dollar store and craft store.  Here is what I came up with - and it worked!!!

We always have a bin of activities in the car, so it was just a matter of adding new activities and changing things up a bit.  I got a little more creative and brought along some more interactive goodies.  

Here is our bin - it sits between the carseats propped up on a box.  We rented a minivan for the trip and I secured it to the van with duct tape!  Worked wonders and only took a few minutes to get it all secure.

Here are some of the items you might find in our box: a container of pom-poms (Zayit loves pushing the pom-poms through the little hole in the lid), a school bus (a favorite), as many cell phones as Zayit can get his hands on, a dollar store calculator (one of the best dollars I've spent!), a lacing animal...

Stickers... stickers... more stickers! (don't forget the pad of paper to put the stickers on - I've forgotten before and he ends up COVERED in stickers!), and a couple books.

I brought along some printables and put them all in a binder.  I used sleeve protectors to keep things organized - one with letter recognition sheets from here, another with stickers (ah... more stickers), one with counting printables from All Kids Network and Homeschool Creations, one with blank paper, and an extra sheet protector to slide the current sheet into for Zayit to use his dry erase markers (makes any printable reusable.)

If anyone knows where I got this bingo printable - I can't find my source (I am terrible at keeping track of these sorts of things.)  I would love to give credit where credit is due.

One of the best new additions to our bucket was a magnetic cookie sheet.  I used magnetic spice jars from Ikea and filled them with magnetic circles (see above with bingo) from Walmart, miniature cars from the dollar store, and a puzzle that I made with a page from this printable pack and magnetic strips.  I also glued magnets to the bottom of a container we use for crayons.  This allowed him to keep his crayons in place while using the tray as a desk.  Below is a picture of Zayit playing with the puzzle/tray the day before we left.  I thought it would be good for him to be familiar with some of the new toys before we were in the car.  I find that the first time he is introduced to something, it generally doesn't go well or his attention span is less than 30 seconds.

Zayit's all time favorite goodie in his bucket was a photo book that I made for him with pictures of his new school.  He starts preschool this week and I thought it would help to familiarize him with his new surroundings.  I plan to do a post of this book later this week.  He loves his pictures of "my school."

And of course... Ziva and her sensory bucket!  This bucket has been so very handy.  We fill it with all sorts of play things and let her go to town.  We have a bucket upstairs and downstairs at home, and here she is at the hotel with her bucket!  Best thing ever.  All her toys are contained and she has access to whatever she wants.