Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Fishful Thinking Preschool Corner - HAPPY collages

In hopes of finding some fun preschool ideas and sharing some activities that my kids enjoy, I'm linking up with Homeschool Creations' Preschool Corner for this week's Fishful Thinking Thursday post.

Last week, the kids worked on these Feeling Collages - Pick a feeling and work with your child to make a collage that illustrates that feeling. Use pictures from magazines, family photos, drawings or words to illustrate what that feeling is like for your child. Paste the pictures onto one piece of paper. Post them on the wall.
My three-year-old and I decided to work on a "HAPPY picture" as he called it. Spiderman, Batman, Toy Story, Cars, etc...all make Noah feel happy. I love the smiley face that he drew all by himself. He's becoming quite the artist these days.

My daughter is almost six so her poster had a little more variety -
Ice cream cones and sunshine would be on my collage too. :) She even drew a picture of our family. Such a sweet kiddo. Of course, she drew a dog too. She never imagined when she made this that we'd get a new puppy this week! (Neither did I.)

Abby and Noah had a lot of fun making these - which are now proudly displayed in the kitchen - and help to remind them of the things that make them smile. Abby actually made hers when she had a yucky case of strep throat and had to stay home from school for a couple days. It was amazing how a simple activity like this really helped to cheer her up.

For more great kids' activities that promote Emotional Awareness - the ability to identify and express what you are feeling and to have empathy for what others are feeling, click here!

Here are a few of the books we've read to help the kids identify and talk about different feelings:

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer
(One of my favorites - too funny!)

My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems
(Gotta love Gerald & Piggie!)

My Heart is like a Zoo by Michael Hall
(This book is genius & so cute - love it!)

Next up is a game of Emotion Charades! I'm going to have Abby & Noah help make the cards and use words like happy, sad, angry, excited, silly, nervous, brave, shy, etc... We love dancing to Mood Music, so I'm sure Charades will be a lot of fun too.

*Done any Fishful Thinking this week?
Be sure to add your link in a comment.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Are you ready for this? We got a PUPPY!

I did not wake up this morning intending to become a dog owner. As much as Abby and Noah have talked about getting a dog... As much as Pat has talked about getting a dog, the understanding has been that we would get one when Abby turned seven years old. And even then, we were thinking we'd probably get an adult dog from a shelter. Abby's been counting down the months since she turned five, and being that her sixth birthday is next week, I've been counting on 12 more dog-less months.

Then today, while a friend and I (and the kids) were visiting a lady from church, she said that there was a sign down the road that said FREE LAB PUPS! The word FREE jumped out at me - especially because Pat and I have talked about Labs being a great family dog, and, ideally, that's the type we'd like to get, but seeing that they are usually around $400-$500 bucks, we didn't really think it would be feasible. But FREE??? Are you kidding me?

So just for fun - still not intending to take one home - we drove over there with the kids, saw the sign, and I called to ask about them and if we could see them. Apparently, the mama dog gave birth to 11 pups and they hadn't had shots yet, so that's why they were giving them away.

Once I laid eyes on these stinkin' ADORABLE pups and even held one, my mind was flooded with how excited Abby would be, that her birthday was coming up, how Noah would love a dog to romp around with, how much Pat has wanted to get another dog, how waiting one more year was just postponing the inevitable anyway, how cute they were and how much fun it could be for the kids, etc...Not to mention how Noah was just beaming - laughing and playing with these pups.

So, I DID IT. I took one home. It was like an out of body experience. I couldn't believe I was doing it. Noah was so surprised that we were taking one with us...and it completely shocked Pat - like who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-wife kind of shock. And Abby was just beside herself - totally ecstatic.

How could I resist? The kids are already HEAD OVER HEELS in love with this pup. He sure seems to have taken a liking to them too.

Now if he would only stop whimpering and go to sleep...

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecilyand Caitlin

*4/29 - Couldn't resist linking up & sharing my crazy news with my PSF pals and over at Lolli's place for Give Me Your Best Shot. And in case you're wondering, we haven't decided on his name 100%. The kids and I are calling him "Rocket", but Pat's not completely sold on it yet. Any ideas? I'll take 'em to the table. :)

Works for Me: FREE Kids Workshops!

On the first Saturday in April, Pat and I took the kids to one of the free Kids Workshops at Home Depot and helped Abby and Noah make butterfly houses.

Well, I tried to help Noah make a butterfly house. Pat & Abby were already finished while Noah and I were still on step #2. I was trying to let him do some hammering, but the poor kid kept hitting his finger. (ouch!) Daddy finally had to step in...

The houses turned out great! The kids were sure proud of their creations.

They even got to keep the apron and received a special butterfly house pin to add to it, as well as a certificate for completing the project. It was really a lot of fun and absolutely FREE!!!

Who would have thought a few weeks ago when we built these that we'd have our very own butterfly-to-be who could move right in? The kids are really excited about that. I just found this video clip that Abby took - so cute!

Kids Workshops take place the first Saturday of the month at Home Depot stores all over the country. My best friend in AZ is actually the one who first told me about them. We're planning to go this Saturday too and get another pin for their little orange aprons. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ten Things to Smile About...

I thought it would be fun to link up over at Emmy's place for her Ten Things to Smile About monthly meme - love this idea! My day got off to a rocky start - alarm didn't go off, Abby was late for school, etc... Reflecting back on the month helped put me in a better mood. So thanks, Emmy! Here's my list for April:

Ten Things to Smile About...
  1. Playing this little joke at dinner on April Fool's Day - I put the "juice" in their Disney tumblers with straws so they could see the "juice", but they couldn't figure out why nothing was coming out of their straws. It was pretty funny.
  2. A "super-duper fun" Easter - perfect weather, great conference talks, BBQ, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and cupcakes!
  3. Seeing Abby play soccer. She's so cute in her little uniform and prancing around on the field. She even scored her first goal!
  4. Going to Pizza Hut to redeem Abby's third Book-It certificate for a free personal pan pizza. She loves that pepperoni!
  5. Making Squid Dogs for dinner. Rainbow Goldfish crackers were the perfect side dish.
  6. Spending the afternoon at the botanical gardens playing in treehouses and enjoying the tulips.
  7. Going on a Happiness Scavenger Hunt on Earth Day and finding a pet caterpillar that is now nestled inside of a chrysalis! The kids even have a butterfly house ready for it that they made earlier this month. (Pics to come!)
  8. Finding my teapot cake picture on the Family Fun website! I entered it a couple weeks ago for The Great Cake Contest. I've submitted a couple other ideas to them too. To even imagine having an article or idea published in that magazine makes me smile.
  9. Going to storytime and sharing a double Godiva chocolate chip cookie with Noah at Barnes and Noble yesterday. yum!
  10. Watching Abby wiggle her tooth like crazy, reading Wibble Wobble, and answering all kinds of questions about the tooth fairy.
If she ends up losing it within the next couple of days, I'll definitely have to add a #11 to my list!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Abby's FIRST loose tooth!

I don't think I've seen Abby this excited since the first day of Kindergarten. She's been hoping for a loose tooth ever since she first learned a couple years ago that a fairy and shiny coins were involved.

Right after I took this video, Noah asked for an apple hoping that he'd knock one loose too. We told him he should have another year or two before that happens.

I can't believe Abby's even old enough to have this wobbly tooth. It's still sinking in that her sixth birthday is right around the corner, and her Kindergarten graduation is two weeks from today!

In the meantime, she's wiggling that tooth like crazy. Daddy teased her that he could pull it out with the pliers if she wanted to put it under her pillow tonight. She's so excited about the tooth fairy's visit, I think she's actually considering it.

We lucked out BIG time...

Our flashlights and radio were ready.

I filled up extra jugs of water.

We picked an interior walk-in closet as our safest spot.

I put a bag of snacks, coloring books, markers, & a card game in the closet too, just in case we were in there for awhile. I didn't really know what to expect. I even put the kids' bike helmets in there. (A little paranoid, I know.)

We kept the Weather Channel on in our bedroom pretty much all day on Saturday, especially after Mississippi was tragically hit, and that same storm cell was projected to be heading our way at 80mph.

It's a bit surreal preparing for a storm like that. I grew up with hail storms and tornado watches so I don't usually get freaked out, but with the warnings and constant coverage from our local stations, I admit, I was a little nervous.

The kids could see that we were getting things prepared and asking questions. M&M ice cream cones and playing games were good distractions. I didn't really let them see much coverage on TV (trying not to scare them), but Abby already knew "a twister" (as she calls them) might be coming because she heard people talking at school the day before.

Pat and I stayed up until around midnight making sure we were in the clear. We lucked out, and the storm's intensity lessened and ended up staying south of us - so grateful for that.

My heart goes out to those who experienced the real thing.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Photo Story Friday and the Dirt Cupcakes

Noah has been asking if we can make cupcakes for a few days now - usually when I'm making dinner or in the middle of laundry. (I always seem to be in the middle of laundry.)

So with yesterday being Earth Day and having an extra cake mix and container of chocolate icing on hand, I gave in and thought it would be fun to make "dirt cupcakes". I even had some chocolate goldfish grahams that we could crush up and sprinkle on top. I was feeling pretty on top of things...for a few minutes.

What I didn't have was cupcake liners...

or gummy worms.

What kind of dirt cupcake doesn't have gummy worms?

The time is now 1:30pm, and being a little overly ambitious, I think we can make it to the store, pick up the gummy worms, the cupcake liners, and a few other things, get back to the house by 2:15, drop off the groceries, and get to Abby's school by 2:35pm to pick her up.

What was I thinking? When have I ever been able to just run into the store with Noah and be out in 20 minutes?

It's 2:15pm and we're heading up to checkout. I figure it will be okay. We'll just go straight to Abby's school. I'll put all the cold stuff in one bag. It should be fine...

Then I realize I forgot the gummy worms. Hello! Isn't that what you came to the store for in the first place? Luckily, there's a candy display near checkout with these new worm, slug, and snail gummies. (Thank you, Willy Wonka.)

Then I notice the check out line, and I start to freak. Two lines are open. Three full carts ahead of me. The one I am in is at a stand still for some reason. A problem with a coupon? I don't know. The one next to me has at least four people waiting.

What do I do? Leave the groceries? I don't have time to put them back. I'll be late picking up Abby. The express line isn't even open. Grrrr...I should never have cut it this close.

Then - Hallelujah! Another line opens up, and the nice lady next to me lets me go first. Thank you! Thank you! I think she could see the panic on my face.

We made it to pick up Abby just in time. Phew!

After we got home and were waiting for the cupcakes to cool, we went on an Earth Day Happiness Scavenger Hunt around the neighborhood -

The kids were so excited to find a "pet caterpillar" (currently in Abby's room), and with every piece of trash they picked up, Abby kept saying, "Mom, we are helping the Earth!" They were really into it - even fighting over who got to pick up the next piece of trash. Noah even wanted to walk all the way to the other side of the neighborhood where we had noticed a crushed water bottle in the road as we were driving home from school.

When we got back (and washed our hands REALLY well), we added the finishing touches and finally ate the much anticipated dirt cupcakes - WORMS and all!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecilyand Pam

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ideas for a Fishful Thinking Earth Day

Looking for a fun Earth Day activity to do with your kids?

Here are a few ideas from Fishful Thinking that would be great ways to celebrate:

* Take a Nature Sense Walk - Pick a park or street in your neighborhood and go on a 15-minute nature sense walk. Choose one of the senses and set the goal of noticing as much as you can with that one sense.

We walked and walked at the botanical gardens this past weekend. The kids couldn't get enough of smelling those tulips.

* Take a Beauty Detour or two - At least once a week, take a 5-minute "beauty detour" with your child. The goal is to use the 5 minutes to notice something beautiful or inspiring or amazing or funny that you would not normally have noticed. For example, if you drive your child to school, leave 5 minutes earlier and drive down a street you don't normally take. Stop on the side of the road and notice something beautiful about the trees or the houses or the sky.

Beauty Detours have become almost habit for us. My kids still talk about the time we pulled over on the side of the road to get a closer look at some cows.

* Go on a Happiness Scavenger Hunt - Create a list of simple items or experiences that make you and your child laugh, smile, or that bring a sense of pleasure (petting a puppy, watching ants march in a line, swinging, etc.). Devote 30 to 60 minutes to a happiness scavenger hunt where you try to find/do several things on the list.

I'm planning to do the scavenger hunt with the kids when Abby gets home from school. We'll write "The Earth Makes Me Happy" on the top of our sheet and then list or draw pictures of things that we like to see & do when we go outside. Then we'll take a walk through the neighborhood and see how many we can check off our list. We'll bring a small garbage bag too so that if we see any litter along the way, we can pick it up. (That's an experience we'll be able to add to our "It Felt Meaningful When...list too.)

Also in honor of Earth Day, I'm hoping we can get a small garden going this weekend. We had so much fun with that a couple summers ago -
Digging, planting, and watering = lots of Mastery Moments!

*Pics from our scavenger hunt to follow on my Photo Story Friday post.

Done any Fishful Thinking or Earth Day activities this week?
Share a comment and/or link up!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Taking time to smell the tulips...

On Saturday, the kids and I went to the botanical gardens and saw hundreds of tulips! Yellow, white, purple, pink, and red ones lined the pathways. Some of them were almost as tall as the kids.

Absolutely gorgeous.

I was just bummed that I didn't have my camera but was happy to, at least, snap these with my phone. I sent the one of the kids to my mom, which she loved and texted back that tulips are very symbolic. Today, I googled "tulips meaning" and found this -

Meaning of the Color of Tulips -
Tulips are symbolic of fame and perfect love. The symbolic meanings also change with the color of the tulips. Red tulips mean "believe me" and are a declaration of true love. Variegated tulips mean "you have beautiful eyes." Yellow tulips mean "there's sunshine in your smile" and cheerful thoughts. Cream colored tulips mean "I will love you forever." White tulips symbolize heaven, newness and purity. Purple tulips symbolize royalty. Pink tulips mean affection and caring.
Orange tulips mean energy, enthusiasm, desire, and passion.

I learned something new!

I'm hoping we can go back this weekend and take some more shots. That is, if everyone is well. Strep throat is on the home front right now...again. ugh. Fingers crossed that it passes quickly so we can take be there for the reopening of the butterfly garden too.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to take some time for Beauty Detours like these.

Springtime totally rocks.

*See more WordFUL Wednesday pics over at Seven Clown Circus.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A little hint for Mother's Day...

Lately, I've been feeling pretty discouraged in the housekeeping department. As much as I pick things up off of the floor, fold laundry, clean bathrooms, and wash dishes, the mess seems to reappear in a matter of minutes - like I never even lifted a finger. Ugh.

Friday was probably the most discouraged I've felt in awhile. Not to mention the fact that Noah was being pretty demanding and uncooperative, even after we'd done an art activity, played on the computer, and had a snack - so that wasn't really helping my mood much either. Even when I attempted to put on a CD to lighten the mood a bit, he threw a fit. Go figure.

I felt like I was really losing my cool, so I decided to find the iPod, put in the earbuds, and listen to some tunes. One of them being this song by Hilary Weeks -

I know you wonder if you'll ever have a day
when the kids stay calm,

the laundry's done, and the dishes are put away.
And sometimes you feel like your days are spent and gone
and the question running through your mind is
what have I gotten done?

And when you finally have a moment to slow down
At the end of you day I know Father would say
Believe in what you're doing
Believe in who you are...

It may seem simple - all the little things you do
But the lives you touch matter so much
And there's no one else like you.
And Father needs you to stand tall and faithful
to be all you can be.

Oh, if you could see what he sees...

When it's hard to believe in yourself and
you feel like you're beginning to doubt

Remember - He believes in what you're doing
He believes in who you are

The lyrics really resonated with me, as all of her songs tend to do, but this was the one I needed to hear at that moment to encourage me and put things in perspective.

Hilary is a mom of four so she knows what moms need to hear and what a challenge and a privilege it is to be a mother - so she also wrote this book to go along with the song.

(So, dear husband of mine, if you happen to see this post and are wondering what in the world to get me for Mother's Day - please click here.)

As an early present to myself, I'll be downloading her newest song that she shared on her blog this past week called Hope on the Horizon. (Click here to listen to it.) It's awesome.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fishful Thinking Thurs (& PSF) - Abby's first goal!

This past Saturday, Abby scored her first goal!

She kept her eye on the ball, got a little aggressive, and kicked that soccer ball about ten feet - straight into the net!

She was so excited to tell me about it...and so was Daddy. (It was the first game I missed - wouldn't ya know it? I was so bummed.I had a youth trip that morning, but Abby said that she'll kick another one for me this week - gives her some extra motivation!)

Kicking the ball around in the front yard with Dad and working hard during soccer practice is really paying off. She is loving every minute of it...and so is Daddy.

Pointing out the specific things she is doing like listening to her coach (and Dad), keeping up with the ball, staying focused on the game, remembering not to use her hands, and having fun out there seems to encourage and motivate her to learn, practice, and improve.

Fishful Thinking calls it giving Praise with a Purpose - Challenge yourself to use process praise with your child. Be as specific as you can. Praising the process takes some practice but the benefits to your child are limitless.

Instead of just saying "Good job!", I make an effort to give specific praise as well. As a teacher, I used this strategy with my students. Praising their process, ideas, and strategies motivated them to make a better effort on assignments whether it was an art project or a book report.

Even though I didn't get to see Abby score that goal in person, when I got home I was able to give her a big hug, high fives, and praise her process that led up to being able to make a goal. She seemed to appreciate that just as much as if I would have been there to see it.

Fingers crossed for another goal this Saturday!

*There are some cool new Optimism activities on the Fishful Thinking site like Positive Habits, My Body Can..., What Would You Do, & Inspire An Attitude of Gratitude - love that one!

Done any Fishful Thinking lately? Link up!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Mamarazzi

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The next Phil Mickelson

Future Masters Champion

*For more Wordless Wednesday pics, visit 5 minutes for Mom and join in this week during their ultimate blog party!
Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I have a dilemma...

The trend in Abby's kindergarten class this year has been to invite the whole class to each child's birthday party. There have been a few that we missed due to Abby being sick or being out of town, but I tell ya, I have never been to more b'day parties in a seven month period - at least one per month.

Abby loves birthday parties. Noah loves birthday parties. It's a party with cake, ice cream, games, and goodie bags (oh, it's all about the goodie bag) - what's not to love?

At the risk of sounding like a birthday grinch, I've got a couple of 'em -

Pinatas. Even the word makes me nervous. My kids know that Mom does not do pinatas. I've seen one too many blows upside the head in my day and heard one too many awful stories, but alas, two of the parties this year have had 'em. I don't consider myself a helicopter mom who hovers over my kids every second, but when a pinata and a large stick enter the scene, I'm hovering - over ALL of the kids. Stay behind the line! Stay back! Watch out! Sit down! Be careful! and then there's the "running of the bulls"-esque beeline for the candy - kids getting trampled and someone crying because little "Johnny got more than me!"

Not my cup of tea.

The second one (do I dare say?) is the infamous opening of the presents.

gasp! I said it.

Especially at these parties where there are 12 + kids under the age of 6. As excited as the birthday kid is to open the presents, the spectators are even more excited to SEE what is being opened and pretty much smother the poor kid as he's trying to unwrap his gifts. There are at least two or three who try to OPEN the presents for him, a couple more who try to remove the packaging and take out the toy, and one that is practically on the b'day kid's lap. Not to mention the rest of them who are shouting, "I can't see! I can't see!" Parents sometimes try to intervene and attempt to resume some kind of order, but it's really no use...

So back to my dilemma - Abby wants to invite the WHOLE class to her b'day party next month. 17 kids. How could she not? She's been invited to practically everyone else's party. There's no way she can't keep the party under-wraps and discretely invite just a few of the kids - she's five. And how would other five & six year old classmates not get their feelings hurt if she invited some and not others?

So I'm playing around with a couple of options - one of them being to go ahead and invite the whole class for a backyard party, but hold the presents. Of course, I told Abby that she'd be getting presents from Mom, Dad, Noah, Grandie, Papa, etc... She's hoping for a new bike and a Baby Alive. She seems okay with the far. Honestly, I don't know what we'd do with all those presents. Her room is already overflowing with Barbies, My Little Ponies, Pet Shop figures, etc...

The other idea we talked about having the kids bring new games or books to donate to a local children's home or hospital. We went to a party a couple years ago where the little girl did that and Abby thought it was pretty cool - so we are talking about that too.

Or maybe I just need to not worry about it and let the kid have a regular ol' birthday party, opening the presents and all - except for the pinata.

We are definitely not having a pinata.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"SUPER-DUPER fun" Easter moments

This past Easter Sunday was a special one for us. It was our first Easter on our own (just our family of four) and was full of cute little moments like these...

When I asked the kids that night at bedtime if they had a fun Easter, Abby had the biggest grin on her face and said, "Yes, Mom. It was SUPER-DUPER fun!"

It was such a sweet moment.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the day.

PhotoStory Friday Give me your best shot at Better in Bulk

Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Joining in for Friday Follow!

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Click the button & link up over at Midday Escapades.

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and this week's is...

Cute designs, I must say!

Thanks for dropping by and following my blog! I will return the gesture. :) You can follow me on twitter too @writingthewaves. Be sure to check out yesterday's Fishful Thinking Thursday post for a Compost Cookie recipe made with GOLDFISH that was featured on Regis and Kelly. I haven't tried them yet because the recipe recommends a stand mixer which I don't yet have.

If only I could win that Great Cake Contest over on Family Fun - a kitchen-aid mixer is the grand prize. I entered this teapot cake earlier this week that I made for Abby's 5th birthday -

Abby and her little friends loved it so I figure it's worth a shot. Fingers crossed!