Small Hands in the Big World

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Nature Craft: Pounded Flower Bookmarks

I know, all good things must come to an end but it was still sad to watch our glorious sunflowers bow down and face earth-ward after just a couple of days of rain. Propping them up seemed futile… more rain is coming. Sure, I could let them just lay there and decay, becoming food for the slugs, squirrels, and birds along the way (and that time will eventually come) but I’m not ready. We only just started enjoying them!

Time to get creative (and time to say thank you to the lovely and talented Rachelle of TinkerLab where I found this idea). If these vertically-challenged beauties aren’t going to stand up straight and behave themselves then look out sunflowers, we are going to appreciate you some other way… and did you notice the title of this post? Things could get a little rough.
  • Step 1:  Gather supplies (for two children you’ll need 2 sheets of watercolor paper, 2 pieces of waxed paper, a hole puncher, some ribbon, scissors and two rocks).
  • Step 2:  Have your kids find a rock that is bigger than their palm and let them know they’ll be using it as a hammer. Wash that rock… scrub it with a firm brush if your kids choose muddy rocks encrusted in clay as mine did.
  • Step 3:  Gather a colorful mix of flower petals (and a couple leaves if you’d like—Sara insisted her beloved mint not get left out of the fun). Show your kids how to do this gently unless you are looking to punish some unruly sunflowers.
  • Step 4:  Place a layer of mixed petals onto the watercolor paper.
  • Step 5:  Set the waxed paper on top of the flowers.
  • Step 6:  Let your little ones hammer away with their rocks. Encourage them to pound all around the whole paper, not just focus on one spot.
  • Step 7:  When they’re done, remove the waxed paper and flower petals to reveal colorful, interesting shapes left behind from their work!
  • Step 8:   Cut the paper into bookmarks, about 2 inches wide, then punch a hole in the top and loop your ribbon through.
Both kids stayed focused throughout this whole task. Sara's creative addition of mint made a lovely green mark and smelled great in the process.

With any luck you’ll have leftover flower materials for more crafty fun… stay tuned. Pin It

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Kindergartners On The Bus Go What?!

Kindergarten is in full swing and William still loves it. He doesn’t wake at dawn to get dressed and drag me to the bus stop any more (now I’m scrambling to get him and Sara out the door in time) but he is still very happy about going every day. He even loves the crazy bus ride, packed with all elementary grades in the morning then full of the entire two classes of half-day Kindergartners on the way home.

Momma, however, has not been feeling the love for the bus. After hearing William’s wild bus-ride stories of kids playing keep-away with his coat (he actually thought this was a fun game), someone removing his shoe (he found this totally hilarious), a “silly” hand slapping game between seats (yet even more delightful for my 5-year-old boy), and a kid blocking his way from getting out of his seat at his stop (OK, this he didn’t like), I was getting nervous. We had a serious discussion about keeping our hands to ourselves, “but Mom, we’re just play fighting,” and saying “Stop” in a loud voice when someone is doing something you don’t like. “But Mom, we aren’t supposed to be loud on the bus,” he argued as if he was the most meticulous rule-follower aboard (yeah, nice try Will-I-Am, but I know you better than that).  
Here is courageous Knight William, protecting himself from the frightening Super Sara (Momma knows that "play fighting" is a favorite pastime)

Anyhow, I was really concerned there was complete bus anarchy and feeling a little desperate (but not sure how) to change it other than talking to William and going over the rules repeatedly. Much to my surprise, the next day there was an aide on board helping to maintain the peace. In a voice loud enough for all the students to hear, the bus driver told me “students will sit in seats by themselves and this adult will stay until the behavior on this bus changes and everyone is following the rules.”  Phew! Big sigh of relief.
Watching William navigate new friendships and observing rules (or not, yikes) from the sidelines is a new experience. I’ve always been in the thick of every interaction at preschool but now that he's away part of every weekday, I have to trust that he has ability and desire to listen, learn, and follow instructions.

This excerpt from the famous Robert Fulghum book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten” comes to mind: All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:
  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder.
  • Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Welcome Weekend

Last week was one of those weeks… too much running around, a couple new classes to fit into our schedule, two evening meetings, and constantly feeling on the verge of dropping one ball or another. We welcomed this weekend with open arms and did our best to make the most of it.

September has surprised western-Washingtonians with warmth and humidity that we aren’t accustomed to. Veggie burgers for lunch on the patio on Saturday may have been our last meal outdoors for a while. Simple but lovely to sit outside and enjoy the beginning shades of fall and remaining flowers in bloom (including sunflowers which I never thought I’d be able to grow here).
Look at these beauties lined up in a row, grown from seed in our shady yard and not chomped by deer--amazing!
Then a kind neighbor friend invited our children for dinner so Rob and I could enjoy an evening out. We had early appetizers at a local wine bar then honestly, didn’t really know quite what to do with ourselves … it’s a little embarrassing how long it has been since a “date night” but it was so pleasant to just relax together with no demands or cries for help coming from any direction. Room to breathe and time to reconnect was lovely.
Pancake Sunday started with, you guessed it, pancakes. Then we hurried out the door for a bike ride before the rain came. The Preston-Snoqualmie Trail provided an excellent wide paved path for me and William to ride while Daddy ran alongside with Sara in the jogging stroller. No, he didn't have any problem keeping up, a testament to his running abilities (or my slow bike riding, I'm not sure which). A light wind floated yellow leaves from the trees and sunlight streamed onto our path. Only two miles of mostly flat trail led us to a view of Snoqualmie Falls then we turned right around to bike more--those kids didn't want to sit and look at waterfalls, they wanted the wind streaming past them!
Racer Boy wasn't even biking without training wheels a couple months ago--now he's unstoppable!
Besides zooming in the stroller, Sara enjoyed collecting colorful leaves...
...cruising on her scooter alongside Racer Boy
...and puddle jumping
As we dive into the coming week, my energy is renewed and I feel extremely grateful for all that is going well. Even when we’re busy, it’s alright. I’m adjusting to the reality that having a child in school doesn’t mean extra free time for Mommy, rather I’m busier making sure I’m where I need to be for pick-ups and drop-offs, frantically coordinating schedules and entering dates on our calendar, corresponding with teachers and parents of classmates, and making sure lunches and snacks are packed for busy afternoons once that Kindergartener is home at 11:30. Oh yes, and there is my lovely little Sara Bear, she has big plans for her Momma time while big bro is in school. Relaxing? What’s that?
Preschool has reignited her passion for finger paints

"Dat me...."

"and dat my curly hair!"

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

School for Sara

The highlight of our busy week was Sara starting her new preschool class!

She thoughtfully chose Hello Kitty socks with crocs sandals, a denim dress she had never worn before, and special hair bow to complete her look on the first day of school. Her sassy pink hair bow didn't last (she never lets me put clips or anything in those lovely curly locks) but it was fun while it lasted

Look at these wild, wonderful, happy girls! Sara is in good company with this bunch
There is a great little playground with slides, swings, bikes, wagons, a teeter totter, sandbox, climbing wall and monkey bars
"I love my teacher, Momma," Sara told me after that first day when I had stayed with her the whole time. Moms, Dads, and Nannies all stayed with the kids that first day but this is a co-op preschool so I'll only stay in the classroom when I'm scheduled to help out.

By the next class day she was hesitant about being dropped off. "You stay with me, Mom?" she kept asking. I knew she was nervous so I answered "I will stay until you say it's OK for me to go." We went back and forth like this for quite a while, "I want you stay with me all day, Mom," she kept insisting, "I will stay as long as you need me to but when you say it's alright to go, I'll go." Sara was convinced that she would not give me the green light to go off and leave her there.

When we arrived, she joined right in the singing and dancing when but I hung around to see how she felt after starting circle time (plus I don't believe in "sneaking" off even if they do seem happy). Anyhow, after circle time, it took less than 2 minutes for her to tell me "yeah, it's OK you go do boring stuff, Mom. I stay here."  YES! Pin It

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sara Bear

My bold, playful, fearless but sensitive girl… giggling makes her hiccup, she wears shorts in cold weather and cozy fleece pajamas on hot summer nights, she loves books more than any toy available, she sings in a high little voice while she plays, she can tell a fairly detailed story in one long breath, and she loves to goof around but prefers to only be called a silly name if it is accompanied by her real name, such as “Sara Bear.”

Opting for a preschool close to home this year, we are starting a new two day a week co-op preschool program next week. Today was our kick-off play date where the teachers and all of the kids and moms (and one dad) showed up to get to know each other. Looking so grown up and poised, she quickly befriended two classmates who shared her love of bouncing on the teeter totter, climbing, running around, and zipping down the swirly slide.

Spinning tall tales about why she needed a band-aid on her finger this morning (the real story is that she just plain loves band-aids, especially princess ones)--I think her new friends totally understand

Fast friends
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shine On

We celebrated the Harvest Moon with a potluck out at Jubilee Farm Monday night. As the sun set, the golden hued moon rose over the treetops, lighting up the happy scene of Farmers Erick and Wendy surrounded by CSA members, friends, family and neighbors.

Our favorite farmers, Wendy and Erick Haakenson
Hay bales were set up for sitting but the kids decided hay-hopping was a better idea.

Despite my efforts to explain otherwise, Sara says that the gorgeous glowing moon absolutely positively followed us the whole way home. We are rarely out driving after dark so it was a thrilling ride home for her. She kept mentioning that things were "flashing" and it dawned on me that she probably didn't know what else to call the "glow" of streetlamps and other lights in the dark.
Roadside photography, a stop along the way home, appreciating the gorgeous night

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Yup, I'm A Soccer Mom

Cleats, shin guards, special socks, and his very own size 3 regulation soccer ball in gleaming red (not shown):  William is all tricked out with cool soccer gear and he finally got to use it today. We arrived at the field not knowing what to expect. What we found was organized chaos, masses of suited-up kids with their parents and siblings, looking for their coaches and place on the giant field. Once we found our team, William proudly put on his new burgundy t-shirt and joined in the practice. He and his teammates look strangely the same (same hair color and cuts along with the matching shirts) and I had a Twilight Zone moment.  You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of cleats and shin guards… next stop, the soccer field!

They start out their session kicking the ball around with teammates then the remainder of the hour is spent in a scrimmage with another team. It surprised me to see my “sweet William” aggressively go after the ball and oops, sometimes he was so focused on the ball that he forgot to not try to get it away from his own teammates. But he was not alone in his confusion and all of these little guys play pretty rough. There were several minor collisions and one was with William’s noggin. After a couple tears and sitting out for a minute he jumped right back in once he saw the game was going on without him. And to think this was the boy I worried about riding the bus on his own…

This is my favorite shot of the day. Look at that determination on his face, he is gonna get in there!

Wait, maybe this is my favorite. It shows him enjoying the way his cleats propel him off the unnatural spring of artificial turf.

What is that on his chin, you ask? Band-aid covering an almost-Doctor-worthy split chin... apparently sitting in a dining room chair is more dangerous than soccer, he just plain fell off while eating lunch. Makes him look extra tough, don't you think?
Sara sat patiently on the sidelines during all this, inspecting the bizarre pebbly rubber material that is part of the artificial turf. I didn’t think she paid much attention to the game but as William relayed the excitement of the whole experience to Daddy at dinnertime, I realized she hadn’t missed a beat. “When I be five I gonna get a sparkly blue ball and not bonk my head but not let anyone get da ball from me and I get it in da net and I win!” she said all in one breath.

Let the games begin, I’m officially a soccer mom.
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Friday, September 9, 2011

This Moment: Huckleberry Heaven

A Friday ritual. A photo capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment that I want to pause, savor, and remember. Hosted by SouleMama. (If you're inspired to do the same, please leave a comment below with your link.)

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Wisdom of Daddy: Surprise!

Give me an itinerary and I will give you organized bundles of toys for the car or plane, homemade snacks to keep blood sugars even, and a suitcase packed with everything our family might need (and then some). Planning and organizing can be part of the fun but sometimes it’s a huge relief to just relax and see where the day (or the Dad) takes us.

Weekend hikes have been a surprise all summer. The kids pepper their Daddy with questions:  “Where are we going, Dad?” “What’s the name of this place?” and everyone’s favorite “Are we there yet?” but he just keeps driving, not offering any clues about our destination. There’s a good chance he is simply undecided about which hike would suit us best but I prefer to think that this added element of surprise is a stroke of genius.

Speaking of surprises, Rob planned a brilliant overnight trip to Vancouver, BC for my birthday. He told me about it on Thursday then we left early Saturday morning, leaving the perfect amount of time to get things together but not obsess about the details or over-pack. Forty eight hours in Vancouver really doesn’t do the city justice but we managed to experience plenty of highlights without getting stuck in obnoxious Labor Day traffic at the border crossing.

Using Bing’s travel alerts, Rob scored an excellent last-minute deal at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, set near the lively harbor full of sea planes, enormous cruise ships, and the majestic sails of the iconic Canada Place. The Fairmont kindly let us check in early so we had our home base established, suitcase dumped, car parked, and we were ready to explore.

Our whirlwind of fun began with a bus ride to Granville Island, a mecca for art, shops, food, glorious produce, and all kinds of entertainment.  

We wandered aimlessly enjoying the sunshine, street entertainers and musicians, and window-shopping until we stumbled upon the Kids Market and our children saw a wall of toys in a store window… they had William and Sara at Lego. Rob and I had other thoughts on the best way to spend our time, namely not indoors and not shopping, so after letting them look for a bit, we pried the kids away from the clutches of the insanely huge building full of toy shops with the lure of lunch.
Next stop:  lunch at Bridges then the famous Granville Public Market. I’d like to say that we walked through this historic market full of exotic wares slowly and let all of our senses be delighted by the amazing sights, smells, and sounds but (here is where I wonder whether blogging should always be the whole truth and nothing but the truth) yours truly had a little meltdown…. nothing embarrassing just a quiet yet abrupt “Get me OUT of here!!!” moment. The closed-in marketplace was absolutely packed with people, it was extremely noisy, I was clutching on to Sara’s little hand terrified that I might lose her, and hating that William and Daddy were so far ahead that I couldn’t see them.  Plain and simple, I was overwhelmed. And since we had just dragged the kids out of the toy store I didn’t understand why we were “shopping” more.
Yeah, that's what I felt like, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"
Rob did not understand why I was suddenly freaking out and I was not in a great place to coherently explain myself. It took some time but we recovered. The refreshing water park smack dab in the middle of everything helped. We had fun running around in the mist, splashing in troughs of water, and spraying a couple fire hoses. After some fresh air, deep breathing, and being hosed down (kidding), I came to understand that (duh) people come to this island simply to experience the very market that had me out of my mind. We weren’t there to shop, rather we were there to experience interesting new things, one of the mantras of our vacation agenda... oops, Mommy forgot… maybe I needed a nap. Anyhow, we gave it another try and did great the second time around. We got to sample local honey, check out vegetables and fruits we had never heard of, admire handmade hats and scarves, appreciate local art, drool over gorgeous pastries, and take a nice quiet little break perusing books (a wonderful little bookstore was right across the street in another building called the Net Loft).  
A moving iron sculpture with balls rolling on ramps and chain "elevators" lifting the balls back up, located right next to the enormous cement factory. Even the massive cement trucks are decorated in colorful art on this Island.

Native artisans actually carve totem poles right on Granville Island -- they weren't working when we passed by but we got to peek a their workshop and see their creations up close.

After discussing the different images depicted on totem poles, Sara declared "dis one me!"
Pondering frozen treat options

Sara holding my hand

Our ride to the next destination
Taking the AquaBus was a relaxing and fun way to leave Granville Island. It took us to Science World.  
We didn't go in (it was under renovation plus we didn't want to be inside on such a pretty day) but Science World did look great -- maybe next time.
We were all a little tired by this point but talking about a ride on the SkyTrain perked the kids right up. 
We started high above ground, zooming along with views of the city. The kids were fascinated when it went dark around us and our stop was underground
A transportation theme had emerged. We drove the car up, rode the bus to Granville Island, hopped on a little boat to catch the SkyTrain then back to the hotel which is right next to the busy harbor with seaplanes, cruise ships, and all types of marine vessels coming and going.
The hotel's kid-friendly (only 3' 6" deep) pool was the perfect respite after our jet-setting day.

…and the pool was the perfect start the following day. After a little morning splashing we said goodbye to the Fairmont and were back in our car heading toward the awe-inspiring Stanley Park. Having misjudged the distance from the parking lot to the Fish House restaurant where we planned to have brunch, the kids were a bit tired but the benches along the way were a good spot to rest and the payoff was an incredible meal.

William with his cornflake crusted, banana, nutella french toast topped with caramel, whipped cream, strawberry and mint. No, this boy is not interested in the kids menu, thank you

William was happy and the waiter was impressed
A family could spend a full week in Stanley Park and still have fun things left to do. After some time at one of the many incredible playgrounds, we opted to hop on the Stanley Park Trolley to see as much of the park in our limited time frame.

Waiting for the trolley... looking a tad bit tired
While we would have loved to get out and enjoy the park more, the trolley turned out to be perfect for the kids' dwindling energy levels and it rounded out our "transportation theme" beautifully.
The Stanley Park Trolley, complete with a clanging bell at every stop
Rob loves giving gifts of experiences rather than things and I feel very lucky to have received such a well-planned gift. Thank you, Sweetie!
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