Friday, September 28, 2018

Hello, Fall Weekend

I knew fall had arrived when I had to wear my sweatshirt and jeans ALL DAY last Saturday. We did what we pretty much always do this time of year: go to Apple Fest at Living History Farms, shoot things at the Iowa Outdoor Expo (and things would be targets, we don't shoot animals), and spend time in the fall sunshine. 

We started our Saturday bright and early with donuts, coffee, and the Children's Museum. It's the weekend I've been waiting for at the Museum: new exhibit debuts! Plus, I got to try out apple cider cloud dough with a lot more kids than usual! 

Who's your favorite person/people? The oldest answered The Beatles (no surprise there) while the two youngest wrote 'I love Mom and Dad.' Good answers.

Can you believe all of these new exhibits were thought of and built by two of our board members (and their family)? I'm so impressed by these people I volunteer/work alongside. The minis had such a great time playing that they didn't want to leave, but I needed time to work on things for the Museum so Hubs dragged them away.

Playing the drum and the xylophone and singing.

While I finished my volunteer shift at the Museum, Hubs took the minis to LHF. I was a tad sad to miss one of my favorite fall events, but I'm glad the minis got to enjoy it! We always have fun at Living History Farms. The minis are at the perfect ages for it, so we get plenty of use out of our yearly pass.

After an eventful morning for all of us, Elizabeth and I headed home for a nap and writing. While I would have loved the nap, I did the writing (in case you didn't know). My parents stopped over with all new clothes and pajamas for the minis. As soon as Elizabeth woke up, she promptly put on her newest nightgown and went outside to play. That's normal for our house.

Playing on the front porch in her pajamas. No wonder our neighbors tend to avoid us!

Since Elizabeth and I had plans at home, Hubs and the boys headed to the Iowa Outdoor Expo where they got to practice shooting and go canoeing.

Sunday morning was a slow start (my favorite kind). Once the afternoon hit, we dropped the oldest off at a friend's house and the rest of us headed to the Blank Park Zoo for an afternoon with the animals.

We appropriately replaced the missing family member. 

A stop at Menard's resulted in having fun in the Halloween aisles and picking out a couple of pumpkins (our first for the season).

This weekend wasn't our usual busy, busy, but we got to enjoy some of our favorite fall activities!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Beginning Of The School Year

It happened. Summer came to an end, the bigs went off to school, followed by the preschoolers, and daycare is left trying to get into the new routine fall has brought us. This year, there are more preschoolers than ever before, which means there's quite a few kids who come in the middle of the day. That leaves our mornings fairly quiet, except for Friday's, which is the busiest day of the week.

It's taking some time to get settled into our routine. Some kids are having trouble with it, some kids get confused between daycare and preschool rules, and others transitioned with no issues. Through it all, there's two things I've figured out about this group: they love being outside (but not when it's wet out, more on that later) and sensory activities are always a hit. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we've done a lot of sensory playing and spent a lot of time outdoors. 

Here's what we've been busy with since the end of August:

There's been a few rain and thunderstorms. Thanks to our huge trees, each time there's a slight breeze we end up with sticks and branches in our yard. That doesn't bother me too much because the kiddos love picking them. They really love to make "camp fires" with the sticks they find. There was one day the kids were particularly irritated with me because I wouldn't set their camp fire on fire. Yes, they fully expected me to light it for them. I got side eyed by everyone when I told them to just pretend it was lit.

We had a solid week in between the Bigs leaving for school and preschool starting. To keep them excited about starting school (there were soooo many talks about it), we made our own school buses and read books about going to school. The favorite among all of the books are Pete The Cat The Wheels On The Bus and The Night Before Preschool.

Dance parties are always the way to go.

Airplane overhead, in case you couldn't tell there was something in the sky.

Five days in and the youngest mini had a "sick day." Turns out she just really missed playing with the kids and running through the backyard. Read about that here.

Organizing a game of Ring Around The Rosie.

The mud kitchen is still in use and played with daily. I still can't believe how this simple area (created with old toys, buckets, shovels, and play kitchenware we had just sitting in the basement) is one of the best things I created for the kids. Read about how I created our mud kitchen here

I shrunk this water bottle in the dishwasher, so it's now a favorited "toy" for daycare.

The dining room table becomes a catch-all quite often during the day. The bin of play sand on the table gets me. The papers, a celebratory set up, and my laptop are the usual fixtures on the table.

We celebrated Hubs birthday with brownies. Daycare kids got to help bake them (and eat a few too).

As soon as Labor Day came around, we started in on our apple themed activities. Our fall activities are among my favorite of the year for the kids! There's so much coloring, painting, smelling, tasting, and soooo much sensory fun!

Apple printing and apple cider cloud dough were our first two apple activities for fall.

Even the Bigs LOVE all of the fall activities and join right in after school.

I love to see the kids helping each other out before seeking the help of adults (that would be me during the day). Even if they wind up dragging a kid across the deck helping to take off shoes....It should be noted that there were absolutely no tears involved in this and the kid caught in the shoes was grateful for the other kid's help.

Apple cider play dough.

Apples with apple cider to drink has become a regular snack on the menu.

Our very own apple orchard! The kids have spent a lot of time peeling the apples off, sorting them into baskets, and then putting them back on the tree. Then repeat, over and over again throughout the day.

I've been running the programming for the Des Moines Children's Museum, which means daycare kiddos get to help me experiment with fun activities, games, sensory bins, and more. We made googly eye slime for the first time and it turned out awesome! As a result of their helping, I've often had to give them disclaimers, such as "we don't get to keep this because it's for the Museum." Now, as soon as they start playing with something, they ask me "is it daycare's or for the Museum?"

Apple nachos after our trip to the apple orchard. Yum! Most of the kids ate all of this separately: first the M & M's, then chocolate chips, then graham cracker crumbles, and the apples last. Silly kids!

Tent building in the living room. On Wednesday's the minis get home at 1:00 p.m. which leaves lots of time for playing. The littles love having them home so early!

Another googly-eyed slime recipe we tried out. We didn't like this one as much but it still got played with.

The kids were still hungry one morning after breakfast, so I whipped up some vegan chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast #2.

I was getting kids washed up from lunch and ready for nap when I glanced at my stove and had a good giggle about its contents. My coffee that I forgot to drink from morning, leftover vegan pancakes, various slime recipes, and pasta/spaghetti squash mix.

Dot Marker apples decorated so beautifully.

I had set out to make apple cider slime, but the apple cider mix made the glue extremely runny. I couldn't get a slime to form after two tries, so we settled for apple spice slime. It worked and the kids were able to play with it for several days before we threw it out due to multiple sneezes right into the slime.

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is make a batch of homemade applesauce with the kiddos. We make it in the morning, let it cook on low all day, and eat it for afternoon snack.

Sand and army men in the backyard.

The little absolutely love their bigs. A couple of big kids were here one Friday and the littles were in heaven. They're pretty sure there's no greater thing at daycare than the big kids.

Two boys held light saber battles and taught the kids the "proper handling of light no one cuts off their arms or legs, you know." Well, now I know all about the correct form as do all of the other kids.

Green apple play dough. 

The kids have been playing school and taking turns being the teacher. This game has to take place in the living room and not the daycare room (or so I'm told) because there can't be two teachers (they're worried about me ruining their game playing). I tend to stand in the kitchen and listen in on their school talk. This is when I find out the goods: who has gotten in trouble for what, what happens if you fuss and whine at school, who doesn't eat nicely at lunch, and more.

We've gotten a good amount of rain this fall. I found out after a rainfall that the kids only like to go outside when the backyard is dry or there *could* be tears. All summer long, most of the kids bound outdoors as soon as any rainfall stopped. One day, it stopped raining mid-day so after snack, we went outside to play. Several of the kids lost their minds when the slides were wet, their feet were muddy, and the grass was wet. This made everyone else lose their minds too and we all had to come inside. That was special, but I thought it might be a fluke. I tried something similar the next day and it turns out that no, no it wasn't a fluke. A few kids freaking out about the backyard being wet causes them all to freak. So, that's been interesting....

It took them a few rounds of apple bowling to realize it works best when they roll the apples and not throw them through the air. Tough concepts when you're in preschool.

Why, yes. Yes we have already watch Curious George Boo Fest because we're not dead inside.

Dried corn painting. 

First festive snack of the Halloweens season: mandarin oranges and Goldfish crackers.

Apple cider "snow." Still a hit with the kids.

My days have clearly been busy, as my nights have too. I helped install a new exhibit at the Des Moines Children's Museum's temporary location. I love how I can draw ideas and incorporate them into all of my jobs, volunteer positions, etc.

One child requested I get stickers. So, we spent a morning "stickering" and coloring with colored pencils on pumpkin shapes (drawn by me).

Our fall paintings for parents: hand print fall trees. The kids were awesome about doing these and they dried quickly....that doesn't always happen when you pair kids and paint.

We've got some really fun things planned in the next few weeks as we get closer to Halloween! I'm anxiously waiting for the trees to turn colors so we can do our fall exploration walk and some of our other fall arts and crafts.