High Beams and Bouncing

Gymnastics for preschoolers?  Well, yes.  Kaia's been attending a class at The Little Gym and absolutely loving it.  Each week they have different group activities they use as a warm up.  The week I took these pictures they used a giant inflatable bouncy room!
 We've only gone to a few classes, but I can already see some good things coming from them.  Kaia is more comfortable in large groups, she's more comfortable pointing out her own needs, and she's getting more confident in very important skills (like jumping off high platforms).  Seriously... it could save her life someday!
 The balance beam has been another little accomplishment.  When she began she really wanted to hold someone's hand...or even just a finger!  If that wasn't an option, she wanted to secure herself with her hands.  After a week or two, she was willing to stand and shuffle her feet along the beam.  She could cross it without lifting up her feet.  Finally, two weeks ago, she did this:
She lifted her feet right off of the beam.  Then, she repeated the feat on the tall balance beam.  Yeah, I was pretty proud of her.  It's so good to see her proud of herself too.  She realizes she's conquering little fears.  This week she even did it backwards!  The teacher did hold everyone's hand as they went backwards, but she still held out her arms and lifted up her feet.

And what does Harry do while Kaia learns new skills and practices amazing tricks?  He flirts with the other moms, plays with toys, practices walking, and talks to himself.

My Snapshots by Harry

My Snapshots
by Harry

Aha!  She isn't looking at me.  I just might have time.  I'll have to hurry.  I see the end of the carpet.  Quick!  She's coming! The race is on!  The Mysterious Bowl of Water is in sight.  I'm sure I can get it this time.  Just a few more....  Oh, man.  Foiled again.
I'm ready for another drive.  I don't especially love my car seat, but it's comfortable enough.  It's a good thing I just ate a jar of pears, some bread, and two apple wedges.  Sometimes I can suck on those apple pieces forever.  Car rides are always better when I'm not hungry.  I wonder why we aren't going yet?  Hey, Mom's back!  What?  Why is your finger in my mouth?  Not again!  Sheesh, Mom.  I hate it when you do that.

I love to play with toys.  Blocks are awesome.  Sometimes I can even stack them.  I also like all the toys with little doors.  Open.  Close.  Open.  Close.  Ow!  Hey, my finger hurts!  Mom!  My finger hurts!
This is really incredible.  It just sits here, on the door.  Whenever I can get around Mom, I can make this incredible noise with it.  Kaia showed me.  I can use my hands or my feet.  Do you hear that!  How cool is that!  Let's do it again.  It works every time.  I just love it!

Boo!  This is seriously amazing.  Now I see you....now I don't.  Boo!  There you are again!  Wait, wait, where are you?  Boo!  I see you!  Now you're gone.  Hey!  There you are again!  Let's do it again.  I can't see you.  Boo!  There you are.  I could do this all day.  Did I mention I love to practice standing and walking?  I could do that all day too.

Harry Learns to Clap

Harry's new skill this weekend is clapping.  I love watching him get excited about things.  Now, instead of just jumping up and down and waving his arms crazily, he also claps! 

Some of my favorite clapping moments were when he clapped for himself after standing "hands free," when he was eating a new soup for the first time yesterday, and when we were playing.

A Day in the Life of...Moi!

Today I'm getting ready to link up with Tales of an Unlikely Mother for her Day In The Life (DITL) on February 21st.  My little day was yesterday.  I thought it was funny that on a day when I decide to document everything, there were several normal things that usually happen that we didn't do.  Our weather seems to have finally made a turn for Spring here in Houston.  After two weeks of nasty cold winterness, this has been a welcome change!  We spent much more of our time outside than we have in weeks!  And, of course, there were things I didn't get to capture in a picture.  Ah, such is life.  At any rate, you can see us in our regular activities yesterday.  I considered giving you a schedule, but decided to settle for occasional captions.  I can't wait to see other DITLs!  
"Rarrrrr!" from the Lion in Wizard of Oz.
"Oh!  I get it!  When I put the ball in here, it comes out over here!"

Guarding the castle.

A princess in the castle!  Castles were quite the theme today.
A present.
Mischievous, but cute.

Ah, nap time.
Yes, we went outside again in the afternoon.
Did I delete the picture of the dirty dishes for you?  How nice am I!
Yes, the kids are asleep again.


I am so extremely mad right now...I feel very much like the pots of water boiling on my stove.  The worst part is I can't blame anyone but me.  So I am mad at myself.   Grrrr!

I finished weeding a little spot in our yard for some vegetable plants today.  Kaia helped.  She has been so very excited to plant lettuce, peas, and carrots there.  We began our evening with a quick run around the block so we would have time to pull the last few weeds and plant our little seeds.  The weather was gorgeous.  The seeds called.  It was exciting.  It was perfect. 

I thought it would be helpful to spread a little fresh topsoil on the plot...it's about 3' x 4'.  I dragged a bag out of the garage, only to discover it was bark.  I wasn't worried, though, because I had a partially used bag in the back yard at the edge of the grass.  Perfect isn't gone yet.

But I should have known better.  A partially used bag of fresh, soft, undisturbed topsoil.  Have I mentioned we live in Houston?

I dumped the soil out and shook it around the little plot.  Seconds later, I think I stopped breathing.  At least for two seconds.  The soil was moving.  Literally.  It was full of Fire Ants.

"Don't worry," I told Kaia.  "I can fix it!"  I brought Amdro over to the scene.  Kaia jumped happily and celebrated our new plan.  She's had some bad experiences with Fire Ants.  Never one to be too cautious, though, I decided to read the label before applying.

"Do not use near crops."  The celebration ended.  Perfect fell apart pretty quickly.  Harry was crying too.  He was ready for bed.

We came inside, ate dinner, and put Harry to bed.  I browsed the internet for ideas to kill Fire Ants in gardens.  I told Kaia my new plan:  boiling water and Ace Hardware.  They have to have something.  She handled it very well.  Better than me.  I feel like boiling water.

If any of you are southern gardeners, I would love some ideas for getting rid of Fire Ants in a garden.  It's a small area, so I'm hoping the boiling water will work.  I won't have a car that I can take to Ace until Thursday.  Did I say Grrrrr?  I should have thought better.

Our Valentine's Day Par-tay!

Fun, fun, fun!  I am loving Valentine's Day more every year!  Besides my husband being a brilliant romantic, the kids are old enough to really enjoy the holiday.  So, the kids and I had a Valentines Party!  Wahoo!

Our first game was inspired by Jon.  I hid ten little green hearts around the living room and "school" room.  They loved hunting for their "heart treasures!"  ("Arrr" for the pirate-type game!)
For our snack I used a heart cookie cutter on some bread.  Each kiddo had a piece of bread and butter to decorate with raisins.  And eat, of course!  Part of me really wanted to do sugar cookies with them, but they all seem to have had plenty of sweets and they had a great time decorating their bread.  Besides, it is healthier!
 We had a couple games by the big blue heart.  It's some kind of blue duct tape.  The kids were mesmerized by this big, blue thing in the middle of the floor!  I could have just showed it to them and they would have entertained themselves for hours!  But I did have two games planned.  First, we did the Hokey Pokey around it.  Then we had a Marker Toss.  The kids chose an X to stand on and tossed the marker in the heart.  They all succeeded.  They are so skilled.
 Finally, we made valentines.  I started by giving them each one with a rhyme.  I expected them to do a little finger play with me, but once they realized they each got a card they were a little fixated on their valentines!

Four little valentines, happy as could be.  I gave one to **Kaia**, then there were
Three little valentines, looking right at you.  I gave one to **Harry**, then there were
Two little valentines, having lots of fun.  I gave one to ****, then there was
One little valentine sitting all alone.  I gave one to ****, then they were home!

We finished with them making valentines for each other.  We made valentines for parents on Friday so they could make cards for each other today.  I thought it was cute that after they made cards for each other they wanted to make one for themselves too!
 After we were done, they were all so tired that we barely made it through lunch before they crashed for naps.  I'd call that a success!

I love this picture!
This last picture is from Kaia helping her Daddy make cookies on Sunday.  Valentinesy?  Yes.  Party today?  No.  Fun picture that goes along with this Valentinesy post?  Yes!

Valentine's Cards for Kids

Inspired by Disney, we made these cards yesterday for the kids' parents.  The text at the top says "i wanna hold your hand."  I traced the hands in pencil, then with the permanent marker.  The kids decorated the cards with markers and stickers.  Kaia especially loved the stickers and the exclamation mark after hand!  I loved that this project was a hit for kids 21 - 42 months old!  One little boy finished and, as he showed me, announced, "Present.  Mama!"

I have a post farther down for Valentine puppets and will be putting more ideas up next week.  I also love the linky at Tots and Me--she has lots of great Valentine ideas.  Check them out at http://totsandme.blogspot.com/2011/02/valentines-activities-link-up.html 

Harry's First Haircut

Harry has a lot of nick-names, but when we added "Shaggy Baby" to the mix we knew a hair-cut was coming soon.  
Yes, the little guy still has a cold--you can see it in his eyes--but check out that hair!  It's still way too fine to comb, and who combs an eight-month-old's hair anyways?!  The only problem is...who cuts an eight-month-old's hair?!  The solution, of course, was Daddy.
 It probably took less than five minutes.  All things considered, Harry did really well.  Kaia was like three when she had her first haircut!
 "Maybe if I grab this, it will stop..."
"Okay, people, I'm really done now..."
Okay, Handsome.  You really are done now.
"Yes! I get to clean up in the water!"
Yeah, it made a difference.  Now our little man's all grown up.  He's had a haircut.

Why Don't We Say What We Mean?

Clunk.  I didn't even need to see it to know that a spoon had hit the bucket of "baby puffs" and knocked it to the floor.  I did need to see it to know that it had been Kaia's spoon.  She and a friend had been waving their spoons at each other while they "waited" for breakfast.  Happily, the lid stayed on the baby's snack. 

I said, "Kaia, would you pick that up?"  I completely expected her to hop down and pick it up.  She had, after all, knocked it over.  Instead, she thought about it and said, ever so sweetly, "No, Mom."  I gave her a look.  You know...one of "those" looks.  She was soon picking up the bucket. 

As I glanced sideways at Jon he pointed out that I had asked.  He also acknowledged that it's part of our culture to ask even though we expect something to happen. 

I've been thinking about this all day long.  On the one hand, I do want our kids to grow up and be well-adjusted and ready for life in "our culture."  On the other hand, I actually do want to say exactly what I mean.  I usually try to only ask when I am happy with whatever possible answer my kids could come up with.  In fact, when I taught school, I made sure that I only gave choices when I was happy with either outcome. 

But now I am wondering which is the better option.  I'm not sure I have an answer.

Oranges and Valentine Puppets

Today's post is a bit random, but that's how today...and this week...has felt.  

Disney inspired me to make Valentine Puppets with the kiddos today.  I cut out the pink cardstock.  The kids drew faces, other decorations, and helped glue the eyes in place.  Disney's might have had fewer scribbles, but mine were better.  They were made by kids.  Kaia called hers "Super Heart" and dramatized rescue scenes for at least 15 minutes!  Everyone needs super heroes.

 At lunch I gave Harry an orange.  I think it's his new favorite food.  Or, maybe it's just because he has a cold.  You never know.

 He liked the peel as much as the middle!  Eventually the flash started to bug him.  "Aw, Mom, really?  Another picture of me eating?"