Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Kind of Weekend Where It Snows In October

For real, the weather in Iowa lately. It's been rainy and cold. We seemed to have skipped right over fall and went into winter. We broke out the winter coats, shopped for new ones since the minis seem to think it's cool to keep growing, and stocked up on hats, gloves, and snow pants. For the third weekend in a row, we stayed home on Sunday. Towards the end of summer, the minis have been requesting to stay home more and more on the weekends. That's usually difficult for me, as the weekends are my chance to get out of the house! However, with our cold, rainy weather, it's been easier to say 'yes' to staying home on Sunday. Plus, Saturday was kind of crazy.

Friday night Hubs and I went out with friends for drinks while the minis spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa. As usual, we ended our night out with a shopping trip to the grocery store. This is how most date nights end with us. When we grocery shop with our kids it's all about efficiency, how quickly we can get in and out, while displaying to our children how one should act in public. When it's just the two of us, we tend to crack immature jokes in the toilet paper aisle. It's just a little more laid back than a run to the store with the kids.

Then came Saturday. The day I ran ALL around town from early morning until evening. Elizabeth decide she wanted to do the Christmas recital at her dance studio. This means practice every Saturday morning for an hour (in addition to her Wednesday night dance lessons). I woke up early on this first Saturday to pick the kids up from my parents, except I only picked up the one because the boys still wanted to stay.

So, I drove Lil Miss E to the dance studio expecting a two hour practice, only to be told it was just an hour. I had fully planned on dropping her off, grabbing a quick breakfast, and heading home to get ready for the day. Instead I had to settle for gas station coffee and a granola bar while I sat at the studio in my pajamas (no bra either) listening to the other parents around and pretending to be busy on my phone. I'm prepared for the coming weeks'll still find my in pj's but I'll at least have my computer with me for working!

I sipped my extremely hot coffee while watching my daughter perfect her "reindeer trot" during Santa Baby. Then, I had just enough time to head home, get ready for the day, and inspect my husband's progress on new window installation. While I spent my day running to and from places, Hubs put in new windows for our 67 year old house. The plan was to lay Elizabeth down for a nap and head to the Children's Museum so I could get some work done for programming. However, Elizabeth requested to go back to Grandma and Grandpa's to hang out with the boys. So back to Grandma's we went. From there it was a blur of errand running, gift shopping, and email sending (27 emails sent in one hour. Boom!) before heading back to my parents to get the kids, drop the boys off at home to "help" with the last of the window installation (which really turned into playing with neighborhood friends), and run Elizabeth to a friend's birthday party. Like I said, a day spent running here, there, and everywhere.

I did have an hour to myself in Target while Elizabeth was at the birthday party. I probably should have found a nearby spa instead, but Target is a close second. After picking up Miss E, we stopped at Tasty Taco's and brought dinner home to "our boys" (as Elizabeth calls them). When the minis asked to watch a show after dinner to wind down, I happily obliged. I'm not used to a full day of running all around like that!

Sunday was a slow start and a day spent at home. Hubs had (and still has) to put up the trim around the new windows, but of course, as soon as we got moving for the day the rain, sleet, and snow came. The minis and I cleaned the daycare room and did a toy rotation. In the afternoon, the minis were busy playing in the snow and with neighbor friends, so I took advantage of my time and did some daycare prep and writing.

These fall days have been so wet and cool that I really have enjoyed our Sunday's at home. It's also given me time to get things done that need done, but I rush through doing them. I say these days at home are relaxing, they only are to a certain extent. I've found we have PLENTY to keep ourselves going all day long on these days at home. While I much prefer to be out of the house and doing new things (or the things we love), I do hope the minis will remember these (few) Sunday's at home, spent in our warm house, football on the TV, goodies, soups, and chilis being cooked in the kitchen, and pj's all day long. 

We removed the hay bales from the daycare room, which left us a HUGE mess to clean up. That took a solid hour to get the big pieces of hay out.

The cat was really confused as to why were we outside and he wasn't. 

The oldest mini was looking out the window when he discovered it was sleeting/hailing. Then it turned to snow (nothing that stuck to the ground) and the boys instantly went outside to catch snowflakes. Meanwhile, Elizabeth made herself hot chocolate and sat on the couch indoors and watched the boys.

The "awesomest" part of the day? When dad used a glass cutter on the huge (old) picture window.

Monday morning sensory bin of noodles and eyeballs!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Week In Review: October 8 - 12

Monday mornings are rough, even when I get to start them by resting on the couch until kidlets arrive. The week went pretty smoothly since I did a lot of prep the Sunday beforehand. As usual for this time of year, Halloween and everything pumpkin took center stage for our activities. We also had a few big kids around at the end of the week (thanks to conferences at school). 

We've been working on (A LOT) problem solving for themselves before seeking out help. This requires them to use their words with each other, which is always hard to do. They've been doing pretty well with it, although it's been mostly me sitting in the middle of the all of the kids and talking them through, word for word, what to say to friends in certain situations. Otherwise, the kids have excellent listening skills. I'm very impressed with how independent this group of kids are and how well they do things on their own.

Monday morning snack was squash tasting. There was spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, and pumpkin pie puree (homemade, from our pie pumpkin I got at the pumpkin patch). The verdict from the tastings: spaghetti squash was the favorite followed by the butternut squash. Only one kids liked the acorn squash and all of the kids only licked the pumpkin. They were also encouraged to touch (or eat with their hands) and smell each squash. After the squash tasting they got to "play with the goop." We baked the seeds to try later in the day too.

Halloween books. All day every day there's at least one kid reading them!

Halloween ornaments/hanging decorations the kids colored.

Funny story about this sensory bin: I have been looking EVERYWHERE for it! I had my husband and minis looking right along with me. When it didn't turn up after looking in every nook and cranny of our house, I figured I emptied it for another activity. I was still puzzled where it's contents wound up. I kind of shrugged it off. A week later I was in the basement doing laundry when I glanced at the washer. Right next to it I discovered the favorited sensory bin! I suddenly recalled pulling the bin out in August to grab some black beans for another sensory activity. Then I decided to just set it next to the washing machine so I didn't have to dig it out in a couple of months. I figured back in August it was be safe there. Safe it was, but difficult to find apparently. I felt happy and stupid at the same time.

Halloween costumes were delivered. Daycare kids hoped they were toys! But they're looking forward to after Halloween when my minis are done with them and they go in the dress up clothes!

This youngster discovered online shopping (eye roll here). It's not secret that I do A LOT of our shopping online (groceries, presents, toiletries, household items, furniture, appliances, etc.). It seems to have caught on because she grabbed my computer and said, "mom, can I look at Gap?" Computer class at school has obviously come in handy for her.

A dead bug on the rug. It was a BIG deal and was talked about all day long.

I put a corn pool in the daycare room. It is very much loved and surprisingly not as huge of a mess as I predicted.

I absolutely loved this activity. Each child got a ball of clay. In the middle of the table were leaves, small twigs, bark, spoons, plastic knives, rolls, potato smashers, and more. Ideally, they would have flattened it out and then started imprinting on the clay, but they insisted on the ball. They were fairly successful in flattening it out with the smashers, spoons, and rollers, but even the kids who insisted on keeping it in a ball had fun with this.

Do-A-Dot markers on leaf cut outs.

Clay leaf prints. I let them air dry for a few days (we have yet to paint them). I had the kids press leaves we found outside into clay, then I used a knife to cut around the leaf, and they pulled the excess clay away.

I was in awe watching this creative game take shape. It started with the girl sitting in the pool and asking one of the kids to toss her an apple (a fake one from our "apple orchard"). This turned in to kids standing on the hay bale throwing the apples into the corn pool at a specified target. There was lots of cheering, encouragement, and turn taking. 

Boo Bats hanging from the ceiling fan. They don't really fly when the fan is on (much to the kids disappointment) we discovered.

Games and learning activities from our "learning shelf," as the kids call it. This learning shelf is filled with games, puzzles, STEM activities, building activities for 4+ years old, and more. We take a bit more care of these things than our other toys, so automatically the kids think these things are something very special!

Another Room On The Broom day success!

It was such a fun and busy week for everyone! 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Room On The Broom Day

Room On The Broom is hands down the kid's favorite Halloween book. We read it multiple times a day plus there's a short movie of the book on Netflix (just in case you or your child haven't discovered it yet). They love it so much that we made an entire day out of it (as we did last year as well)! We had several activities related to the book and/or witches. 

Our activities included:

  • Reading Room On The Broom (4 times)
  • Watching Room On The Broom
  • Making witch's broom sticks
  • Decorating wands
  • "Flying" on our broom sticks
  • Re-enacting Room On The Broom
  • Drinking "Witch Potion" (also known as apple cider) and eating a witch hat for afternoon snack
I also snagged this Room On The Broom Activity Book for the older kids to do some of the puzzles inside. They loved it!

"Flying"  on their broom sticks helped with some of the pent up energy since it was raining (yet again). Bonus that no one poked an eye out with their sticks.

I told the kids we had a Witch Lunch: witch's hair (spaghetti), french fries (because the dragon likes to eat "witch with fries" in the book), frog tongues (green beans), and witch fingers (carrots). Usually the kids giggle and tell me, "no Ash, it's just our lunch!" Instead I was met with very worried faces who looked like they were about to cry as they backed away from their plates. I had to reassure them it was really just spaghetti and that it was okay to eat. Ooops!

Apple cider in the witch's cauldron and our witch hats (cookies, frosting, and waffle cones).

All of this was simple to do and the kiddos loved it! I decided to skip the Witch's Potion (also known as The Witch's Lab last year) making activity, but I plan on adding it in for this theme day next year.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Another Rainy Weekend

Seriously folks, Des Moines, Ia had two straight weeks of rainy, cloudy weather. We didn't have too many options (and I don't want to use up our good middle of winter, indoor options this early) for the weekend, but we managed with family dance parties in the living room (I vote we move so we can have an entire music/dance room!), a muddy hike at Ledges State Park, errands, and dinner at a new-to-the-kids restaurant. On Sunday we chilled. Big time. It was a lazy, football kind of day while the rain poured outside.

The minis caught Hubs and I dancing in the living room. This turned into a swing dancing lesson that was full of giggles and eye rolling.

We hadn't been up to Ledges State Park for a year. We were really missing our favorite park, so we decided to take advantage of the few dry hours we had on Saturday. We were shocked to see that they had paved part of the top ridge trail, the lower part of the canyon was flooded, and happy to find the canyon road still closed so we could walk along it (one of our new favorite things since the road has been closed due to a sink hole).

We anticipated wet and muddy trails so we came prepared in boots and extra clothes in the car when we were done. 

Soooo happy to be out and hiking!

We are NOT fans of the new trail. It really takes away from the nature aspect of the hiking trail and actually makes it more difficult to walk.

Thankfully not the entire trail was done (yet). Towards the end it turned back into an unpaved and rough trail.

Those views!

We collected "fall goodies" on our hikes.

We failed to think about the flooding of the Des Moines River and how that would impact the lower canyon. It was a bit of a shock to step off of the trail and clearing and be met with flood waters.

We had to hop back on the trail and find a different way into a high point of the canyon. This was the slippery-est part of our hike.

I got a bit nostalgic on this trail. The minis have been doing this particular trail at Ledges for over 5 years now. A trail that once took us two hours to semi-complete took us less than 20 minutes to do! We went from hours to minutes. How much things can change in a short amount of time.

This is the section of the road that was lost to the sink hole. It appears they have been working on it all summer long.

From a nature-y afternoon at Ledges to shopping at Walmart for Halloween supplies. It was actually a fairly quick trip for the amount of things we had to get. Of course, the minis talked me into new slippers and we picked up new snow boots to keep me from shopping around. By the time we were done shopping we were all starving. We had planned on making tortillini at home for dinner, but time got away from us. After much discussion about what everyone was in the mood for, we decided on a new-to-the-minis, local restaurant Chuck's. It was a great decision! We were all happy with our meals and had a nice dinner out.

Pastas, salads, bread, meatballs, and more! Yum! I tried their eggplant parmigiana and it was fantastic.

Sunday's are for resting. Especially when it's raining out. Thanks to the oldest mini's insistence on watching football (thus, me paying for Hulu Live so we can see them all), most of our Sunday's this fall have been spent relaxing at home. I can't say I dislike it. It's been nice to slow down, take time to do things that have needed done (and that I'm excellent at neglecting).

This is how Harrison puts away the dishes on the shelves he can't reach and this is how Max watches football. Both special.

And this is how we embarrass Max.

Plus, I've had time to food prep for the week. Daycare did squash tasting, so I prepared several varieties of squash, homemade food for the week, granola bars, and other snacks. It's been really nice being prepared for our busy weekdays.

Hubs and I ended the weekend as we usually do: cleaning. Then we warmed up some of the ravioli I made and watched the Sunday night news (super exciting, right?). The cat tried being sneaky to try out the ravioli. Every time one of us flinched, the cat would slide back on the couch, close his eyes, and pretend nothing was happening. When he was convinced we weren't paying attention, he'd go back to licking the ravioli. This has to be one of the funniest thing this cat has done in his 12 years of life.