Friday, June 29, 2018

Sensory Walk

We love sensory activities. We love games. Put them together and you've got our fun Sensory Walk Game.

 Have you ever played a pop or cake walk at a school fun night? The Pop Walk was always a favorite of mine growing up from my school's yearly Fun Night. Everyone would donate a 2 liter bottle of pop (or soda if you prefer) and on Fun Night I'd spend half of the night walking in circles, hoping to be standing on the number that was drawn out of a hat so I could drink my sweet bottle of sugar. It's a simple game to play, yet so much fun. During our family game night, the minis came up with a Cookie Walk and it was definitely a highlight for us all.

As far as sensory activities are concerned, we've done A LOT of them. Every day we do some type of sensory play, but I was looking for something different than our usual. A fellow daycare provider shared with me how she put various sensory items in small bins and the kids can walk in them, play in them, etc. Walking....hmmm. Not something I had thought of before. Walking in sensory bins. Of course, with how my mind works, what are they supposed to do then? Just put their feet in and then??? What??? And that's how my idea for the Sensory Walk Game was conceived.

12 qt Sterilite containers worked wonderful (turned the long way for bigger feet) for this activity. I had quite a few laying around and bought a few more at Walmart. We use these containers for small toy and building toys storage, so I know all of these will be used at some point or another. Another option I looked into was IKEA bins (about the same size), but decided on the Sterilite containers because, well, lids.

Now for the fun part, what did we put IN our sensory bins for the walk? I kept in mind that the kids would be stepping in/on these things, so I didn't want anything that would hurt their feet. The one thing I didn't think about is how slippery things would get! I didn't anticipate some of the older kids playing this game ALL MORNING long and the more some of these bins mixed together, the more slick things got!

  • chocolate pudding
  • beans (red and black beans)
  • ice water
  • water beads
  • jello
  • rice
  • shaving cream
  • pom poms
  • bird seed
  • sand
  • damp sponges
  • slime

Each child got to choose the bin they started in, then as the music played, they walked. When the music stopped, they stopped, and I chose a slip of paper out of the bowl. Whoever was standing in the bin that was listed on the slip of paper got to pick a prize from the prize bowl. Prizes were simple: small cans of Play Doh, bubbles, or suckers.

Clearly the hand towels and wash cloths did nothing for helping with the dirty feet (as I had imagined). Smartly, I had set up a kiddie pool filled with water that they could rinse their feet in when they were done. They wound up needing to dip their feet in off and on during the game because the sand, bird seed, and rice accumulated quickly!

The kids all LOVED the game and will definitely be played again! There were two two year olds playing the game and they didn't quite grasp the concept of the game (the walking in and out of the bins proved difficult; they wanted to walk on the outside of the bins, which irritated the big kids). This is definitely a preschool (3 or 4) and older sensory game.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

To My Oldest On Your 10th Birthday

My Dear Maxwell,

Today you are ten. As you keep telling people, you're "a full decade old." Ten years has come and gone in no time at all. I fight to remember the little details in these ten years: your sweaty head as we cuddled during those first few weeks as I adjusted to motherhood and you to the world. You sweet voice and those newly found words. How you once grabbed for my hand, yet also attempted to run away from me. The books we once read over and over again before bed. It all seems to have happened yesterday and forever ago all in the same moment.

One thing has remained the same: you're my go-to kid. "Max, take the trash out." "Max, laundry." "Max, help (enter anyone's name here) do (enter any task here)." "Max, walk your sister to reading group this summer." "Max, take Harrison to the climbing tree." For ten years old, you're responsible and willing to help, as you've always been. This speaks more to your character than you know and I hope you always remain humble.

The pre-teen years have hit and it's an interesting ride so far. There's been random outbursts about a lost hat (that caused us to be an hour late to family fishing day) and tears about nothing. I commend us both for handling things calmly. We're able to laugh about it (now that it's over). I suspect this will only get more interesting as we work through the next year.

Your fourth grade year at school was tremendous. You excelled in your school work, got along with all of your classmates, and you are generally sad about only having one final year at your elementary school. You excelled at piano and chess club and are known at school for being the best big brother. All of the teachers are commented about how responsible you are and how protective you are of your brother and sister. My favorite story from the school year was at the very beginning of the year when Elizabeth was upset because a little boy kept biting (yep, biting) her hair during circle time. I told Elizabeth told stick up for herself, raise her hand, and tell her teacher. Elizabeth informed me that she wasn't going to do that, so I told her there's wasn't much that could be done if she wouldn't take a stand first. The next evening at dinner, you proudly announced that you mentioned the incident to Elizabeth's teacher for her at drop off (because you walked her all the way into her classroom every day) and Elizabeth's teacher already knew about the hair biter.

I have to laugh because I always wonder why Elizabeth doesn't speak up better. I have to look no further than YOU for the answer. You've always been every child's advocate when they're upset, confused, or worried. You've always been the first person a new daycare child takes to and I'd guess it's because of this quality that other's feel from you.

You love to write and make up stories. You love books, movies, traveling, maps, building things, a good sword or Light Saber battle, music, and being "in charge" of the remotes. You continue to search for answers to all of life's questions and make bucket lists better than I do. I see a lot of me in you, which can make things both difficult and easy.

Thinking back on the last ten years, one thing is for certain: my life has been better because YOU were born. Somehow you give me reassurance and encouragement at just the right moments to let me know I'm doing something right in this whole mom business. I hope you continue to be YOU because there's nothing better in this world.

I thank the world every day that you are mine. As you grow older, less and less of you belongs to me. As sad as that can be, the world needs more of you. I hope you always give the best of yourself and know that I'm always here.

Here's to the next TEN Maxwell John! I promise you'll get to cross some exciting things off your bucket list and I'll be right there with you. 

Love you always and forever,


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How One Little Princess Cup Brought Me To Tears

I made an impromptu trip to Walmart, mostly to get out of the house. It was pretty much the only thing open at this time of night. Not surprisingly I came home with unexpected goodies: a giant checkers board game, a couple of new toys, candles, and several new character cups that I nabbed for only 30 cents a piece. I knew we were in need of a few new ones because there were a few in our cupboards that no longer had a character on them from all of the washings. That's in addition to the bite marks from little teeth all around the edges.

Some of those cups had been around a while. I pulled them out of the cupboard and threw them into the recycling bin. I stopped when I got to a particular princess cup. Instead of tossing it as I had done the others, I set it on the counter and had a staring contest with it. Even if the cup isn't aware that it was a staring contest, it totally was. Of course, I couldn't stare well through the tears that welled up in my eyes.

You see, this cup is more than just a cup. It's the last surviving cup from the first round of "real" cups I ever bought for my kids and daycare. I actually remember buying this cup so many years ago. I picked it out with one of my daycare girls in mind. It was before I had a little girl of my own to buy princess stuff for. It was when we were practicing with the big cups and phasing out sippy cups. My oldest had just turned three. He's now ten. I've had this cup for seven years.

While I remember buying this cup as though it was yesterday, I can't recall how many fights this cup has seen ("no it's my turn for the princess cup!"), how many spills, drops, and everything in between this cup has been through. It's always these very mundane items that get me. These silly items that make me realize the passing of time.

This little scratched, bitten up cup got me and it got me good. Just always assume when you see me staring and crying at a random thing that there's some kind of story to go with it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Harrison's 8th Birthday At Daycare

Harrison had a GREAT birthday at daycare! As usual for birthday's, he got to choose all of the meals, snacks, and activities for the day. He was pumped that the state on his birthday was Massachusetts because we got to do one of his favorite things: have a tea party. He requested to have the costumes brought up into the daycare room for the day. He was very disappointed that the weather didn't cooperate for time in the pools (but it seems we'll get plenty of pool time this week).

The night before, H Dawg decorated his own chocolate cupcakes. This helped me out tremendously, as I had been under the weather all week and had plenty to get done. Also, his face paint was that of a dalmatian puppy, thanks to watching 101 Dalmatians on Netflix earlier in the day.

Harrison's day started bright and early at 5:30 a.m. but he kindly let mom sleep until 7 (when I had to be up for daycare). Then all he could focus on was opening presents!

Hatchimals, an Echo Dot for his bedroom, and a new Fingerlings play set made for a perfect birthday for this new 8 year old!

It was actually pretty perfect that we were doing Massachusetts on his birthday because we got to have tea party (tea is one of his favorite drinks) and eat his birthday cupcakes.

Harrison had hoped to do the Mayflower Boat Races in the big pool in the backyard, but since it was raining, he had to settle for a kiddie pool inside (with way less water in it than usual). The kids decorated their "boats" (empty yogurt and applesauce cups) before trying to race them. 

The kids had to blow their "boats" from "England" to "Massachusetts."

The cat discovered this extra large water dish and climbed right in. It had the kids in stitches.

Harrison's lunch request: mac and cheese, raspberries, broccoli, and frozen peas. Yes, frozen peas. It's so weird, but this how my kids prefer to eat peas! We read Dr. Seuss books during lunch (because Dr. Seuss was from Massachusetts), with Happy Birthday To You! being the first.

After a full day of playing and dressing up, we had H's favorite Chinese food for dinner and Grandma and Grandpa Sheaffer came over with gifts.

Some back story to why this fortune is so amazing: Last month, we got Chinese food before we started our trek up to Minneapolis for a weekend getaway. It was a big weekend and when H pulled out his fortune that night, the fortune was: This coming Saturday will be an exciting time for you.

This stood out because he had a special night at the water park that night. Cut to his birthday night and he gets the above fortune. On Friday, the day after his birthday, he got a special Birthday Day with my parents and some one on one attention that included a special sleepover.

It think it's crazy that he's now gotten TWO fortunes on the eve of a day that would be special to him.

Harrison got his coveted shoes from Grandma and Grandpa. The last time we went into ON, he got really mad at me because I wouldn't buy him these new shoes (because I knew he was getting them for his birthday). I apologized as he went to bed how he had acted that day in ON because I wouldn't get them.

Another epic birthday in the books for Mr. H Dawg doing everything he loves!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Recital AND Father's Day Weekend

Our biggest anticipated weekend of June happened: recital weekend. There was so much uncertainty surrounding recital week (how would we manage work schedules? What time did we need to be where?? And when am I supposed to be volunteering? It was a lot to take in) that by the time the actual recital day came around, Hubs and I were exhausted. Yet Lil Miss E was ALL for the excitement of recital week. Because of our busy recital week and recital day, we didn't do a whole lot for Father's Day. However, we ended the weekend learning three things: 1.) Elizabeth LOVES dancing and spent all of Father's Day talking about next year's recital week. 2.) It's no fun when mom's sick. 3.) Night swimming is the perfect way to end the weekend/start the week.

Hubs unexpectedly had to work, so it was a mom and minis morning. We saw an early morning showing of Incredibles 2 at Flix Brewhouse while we enjoyed breakfast, did some shopping for Father's Day, and had treats from Starbucks. Then, it was the much anticipated recital time.

Elizabeth: "Boys, do the dance pose please." The picture below is when she realized Max wasn't doing the dance pose she requested.

She did so great! It was a late night (and we didn't even stay for the entire show!), but Lil Miss E loved every part of it. She's hoping for a solo next year (insert eye roll) and instantly talking about the next dance season. She's already decided that she'll take tap and ballet again, but "maybe do an acro class too because I really liked their I can do cartwheels and the splits now."

We celebrated with a late night visit to Snookies.

We weren't sure how the day after the recital would go (how tired would everyone be? was the big questions), but the minis were up bright and early on Father's Day so we decided to go for brunch. We tried out Gilroy's brunch buffet for the first time. It was a hot morning, but we love Gilroy's patio and chose to sit there. 

We spent the afternoon resting and treated ourselves to an evening swim at Valley View Aquatics Center after dinner. We've done their family swim night in the past and have always been surprised that it's not incredibly busy (it's only $12 per family for two hours of swimming).

The minis felt the cat should eat treats with us before bedtime....

Unfortunately, I woke up Sunday morning sick and feeling very run down. Not the way I wanted to end the weekend and start my week, but luckily I had a fair amount of time to rest and take it easy on Sunday.