Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Stinky!



It is hard to believe that she is 2 years old today. I am sure every parent says that every year their child grows another year older. Life moves so fast when given the opportunity to watch your baby grow and develop. I have never been so excited in my life to wake up every morning just to see this beautiful smile as she is ready to begin her day of adventures and learning. I have loved every minute of her existence. With a little tear saying good bye to the first two years, I look forward to every minute with her that is to come before the ending of year 3. So to that I say Happy Birthday Stinky! I love you very much.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Entertainment


Being a preschool teacher for 10 years it was hard to justify ever paying somebody to come in and entertain the children through music activities. So I did it myself. From a pattern I created "The Little Old Women Who Swallowed a Fly". The children were able to stick the different animals into the Lady's mouth. That was exciting for some of them. We sang a few songs, used musical instruments and at the very end danced to one of Stinky's favorites: "Who Let the Dogs Out". For some reason I was a little more nervous leading a group in front of my peers then I had ever been working in different classrooms with different adults watching all the time. It turned out ok and I think the children really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Food to Fit the Music!

This was the hardest to put together. I wanted to chose items that were child friendly, easy to eat and somewhat tied back to the theme. The menu included pigs in a blanket (whole notes), homemade pretzels (shaped as half notes), Pirates Bootie, apply slices with 3 different dips (yogurt, chocolate pudding, and carmel), cheese and crackers, and two different kinds of sandwiches cut into the shape of music notes (egg salad and cream cheese with cucumber). The food was fun to munch on with some aesthetics to complete it. I really enjoyed making all the little nibbly bits and I think people enjoyed eating them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Decorations!


For Stinky's Music Theme Party I made all of the decorations. With the help of a friend who is more artistic than I, she drew the music notes. We cut out the notes, painted them with glue and then glittered both sides of the notes. We hung them from the ceiling using fishing wire all over the room. I also cut out smaller notes out of black cardstock and strung them together to hang across the food area. Surprisingly the children really enjoyed moving the black notes across the fishing wire. The notes were right at their level and I watched many of them jingle the notes, move them from side to side and watch as they floated across the string. I like interactive decorations!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's a Music Party!

I have been planning my daughter's 2nd birthday party for some time now. I believe it started with in an hour of her 1st birthday. This is one of my favorite parts of having children. I love planning parties and children's parties are even more fun. This party was a music theme and the cake scared me the most. I was sure I would mess it up, but thanks to my mom for her sculpting techniques and my sister for her handwriting the cake turned out well. The best part is that we made it and I was able to save money in ordering a cake.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

She Got Bangs!

Stinky had her second hair cute to even out the shag that has grown so quickly on her head. Along with the trim came some cute bangs. I was apprehensive at first about cutting bangs but it turned out to be a pretty cute do. She was ready to show it off too.
The best part of the experience was the "treat". Stinky loves treats just like her mommy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

She's a Dancing Machine

video
Stinky loves to dance. At a local children's place they put a little spin on the dance floor and Stinky loved it. The concept of watching herself dance on the TV kept her interested the whole time we were there. Forget the pirate ship, the coloring room, the boat, the dress up and all the other interesting items in the environment. Let's Dance!

Creating Is An Expression of One's Self No Matter What That Might Be




In her painting experience this time she chose to use her hands as the tool connecting her mind to the paper. She hasn't painted with her hands in awhile and for the first time she was very interested in different colors and mixing the colors together. In the end the colors intertwined creating a blackish color, but for Stinky it wasn't about the color it created. It was about the process, texture and the connection.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why Are Tents So Exciting?


We bought this tent for Stinky at a yard sale six months ago for $2. I found it in our storage and thought it would be fun to set it up. Stinky was so excited. I left it unzipped but as she begun to explore it she quickly wanted it shut. I left a small hole for her to climb in and out of. For days she spent time gathering items such as books, blocks, little toys and even the dogs to take inside her tent. She loved grabbing her blankie and water and just hanging out inside by herself. At one point she got Daddy to go into the tent with her. As I was busy taking the few moments to get somethings done I could hear nothing but giggles and squeals coming from our porch.

What is the lure of a tent to a child? Perhaps it is the idea of having a space just their own where they can create, imagine and just be by themselves. I suppose that never goes away as adults we seek to find that quite place where we can think, read, or just spend a few moments relaxing by ourselves. As I put the tent away ready for another day to introduce some newness and excitement I seek to find a special place where Stinky can go by herself to, "get away". A place where she can imagine, think and process all things she calls her world.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bringing a Little Nature Inside


It's amazing how fast time flies when it gets so close to the holidays. My last post was over two weeks ago and I have been so busy I haven't even had a chance to realize that it's been that long. Although we don't have many trees around us that drop leaves, we have had the chance to hit some good parks with beautiful trees. During our walks through the park I have encouraged Stinky to notice the changes (very slight changes as we don't have much of a fall here in California, it's still in the 70's) in our environment. We have collected leaves, twigs, acorns and other interesting items we have come across on the ground. As our collection grew I decided we needed to use some of the items in some art work.

This project was a two step process. First Stinky crumbled up leaves and smashed egg shells I had washed and dried. I put both items into little bowls after she had finished. This was a perfect sensory experience as she used her hands and then tried a few different tools to crush and crumble both materials. Then I put out a piece of contact paper on a tray. We haven't begun working with glue yet and this is a great age appropriate material to use to obtain stickiness. Stinky then proceeded to create using the artistic juices children use so freely. I included a small shaker of glitter I had made by punching tiny holes in a baby food jar. I wanted her to use the glitter freely but not so freely that we saw glitter for days. A mixture of natural and man made materials added a calming piece of art work with a little sparkle to catch the eye. When she was finished I backed it with more contact paper and hung it at her level on the window. Stinky is able to admire her own artwork and remember all those walks we took looking at the nature with in our environment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For the Love of Animals, but Particulary Goats

I grew up in the country surrounded by farm animals. It was a regular occurrence to see someone riding their horse down the street or walking their lambs in the pasture behind my house. I raised rabbits and pigs and saw these animals as just part of daily life. Moving to a large city as an adult made realize that such experiences aren't everyday occurrences for all children. It is important to me to give Stinky every opportunity to engage with animals as often as she can. I want her to be comfortable around animals and appreciate how animals contribute to the world. When we visit Momo and Grandpa I try to make sure we visit a local farm so she can play with the animals. Her particular favorite is the goats. She thinks they are so funny and she sits with them feeding them, talking to them and even dancing with them.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Serving for You and A Serving for Me.

Stinky is very particular in how she sets the table. If you move items she gets very frustrated. She prefers to use the napkins, placing items just so on top of each napkin and usually leaves the table cloth in the basket. I suspect this is done because we use place mats instead of table cloths at most meals.
Stinky's great aunt brought her a gift of a picnic basket with table settings for four on her last visit up. This has been one of Stinky's favorite activity. She has really enjoyed setting the table and serving guest. This activity has been her first attempts at pretend play and roll playing. It is amazing to watch Stinky play out what she sees her parents do. Often when I am carrying out my normal daily duties I am unaware that my little human is standing or sitting or even playing just close enough to me so she can observe my actions and input the information into her memory so that later she can practice all my moves.

What a great job it is being a parent and a little scary. (They are inputting everything with no filter which means it's time for us to start filtering.) Children want nothing else but to be with us and do whatever we are doing. Where else does one get to experience such unconditional love and admiration. Something to remember next time she is standing at my leg whining "up, up, up" while I am trying to cook dinner.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Animals

I had been saving these animals for Stinky when she was a little older. As I observed her interest in animals grow I decided it was time to pull them out. The introduction of a toy is just as important as the toy itself. The way a toy is introduced sets the stage for how the toy will be played with, how the play will evolve and how well the toy will be taken care of. To bring the animals into Stinky's world I put them on her table lined up in a row and prompted her to sit down. She was amazed as the animals looked at her. They were right at eye level and larger than she was used to. She sat staring at them for an extended amount of time before she began to interact with them through touch. Initially she wanted to move them around keeping them lined up in front of her. Eventually she began mimicking the noises that each animal made.

Environment is key in children's development and how they interact with the world around them. If you set up a play area with aesthetics and simplicity in mind children are more likely to use the area and to have a desire to keep the area clean. This in turn leads to the perception that toys are important and it is important to take care of them giving toys a longer life in the home.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Playdough Fun

Our next adventure into sensory exploration was play dough. Again Stinky was not fond of the feeling/texture at first. I had to pull some of the play dough apart, roll it into balls and prompt her into play. Once she had observed it in action she began to do some exploring on her own.
Her first interaction with the play dough was to poke holes in it. She was intrigued by the dents and how the dents stayed in the play dough after she made them.
Her next step was to pull chunks of the play dough off a large piece. This was pretty much the extent of her exploration in her first play dough experience. I will continue to offer more experiences leaving out other tools so she can focus specifically on the play dough. I will introduce other tools when she becomes bored with just the play dough.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sensory!

I wanted to introduce Stinky to different sensory experiences and to engage her in some measuring, hand eye coordination, and spacial awareness like activities. I put flour in a container and added some scooper's and some small containers to scoop in. At first she wasn't so sure about the texture. She would put her finger in the bucket, touch the flower and then look at it.
Eventually she decided she was ready to try out one of the scooper's. She started by scooping up the flower and then dumping it back into the container.
Eventually she found the small container and began filling it up.
She really enjoyed this activity and I will be adding different parts to it as it evolves. Eventually we will experiment with other materials such as corn starch and water, play dough and different types of bean.

This is a great activity for developing spatial awareness in building mounds and dumping the flour. It helps children understand volume and how much space certain amounts of volume take up. It also gives them an introduction to measurement, how much of a certain substance can fit into another substance, and different types of matter. And of course hand eye coordination through picking up the flour using certain tools and transferring it to containers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tea for Me

When we were in Portland at a wedding Stinky really enjoyed the little cappuccino cup that they gave her to drink out of. While I was at a consignment event I saw this little tea set and thought it would be a great set for Stinky to practice her pouring and drinking.
She really enjoyed the pouring part and a little of the drinking. However I did find that I had to continually put more water into the tea pot and the pan filled up quickly with water.
I looked away for a moment and the little tea cup was dropped on the floor falling into a million little pieces. I had bought the set for a very good price knowing that at this age there is a high probability that it would not make it too long. I felt a little guilty because I am sure at one time this set was barely played with for fear from some parent that it would get broken. In less than an hour my little Stinky broke one of the cups. I had to remind myself that I had bought the set knowing full well that this was going to happen. There are still five more cups for Stinky to explore and there was a lesson learned. As she looked down and saw all the pieces she was disturbed that she could not play with the cup anymore. Her action in throwing the cup caused a direct reaction in that it broke and was no longer usable. Hopefully next time she will attempt to be more careful as she learns that not all materials are indestructible.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wedding's: Stinky is an old pro!

Stinky has attended five weddings so far this year and has become quite a pro. When we tell her we are going to a "party" she jumps up and down and does the sign for dancing. She is really good with the late nights and the long hours of sitting. Most of the weddings we have attended have been Chinese banquets which consist of about three hours of eating. (My DH's favorite part) The tables are very close together and with waiters serving food non stop it makes it hard to get up and down. So we bring toys and she enjoys entertaining the people at our table with her cute gestures and little performances. With promises of cake and dancing at the end she is really patient and able to sit through the meal.

The preparation for these weddings has become just as fun for her. She loves to get her hair curled. She sits so well while I curl her hair and when I am done she touches her hair, poofs it up a little, and looks in the merror with approval.
We attended an Indian wedding so Stinky was able to wear her beautiful Indian dress a friend brought her back from India. She thought she looked so good that she kissed herself. My daughter is quite the little princess.
Her favorite part of this wedding was the little cup she was able to drink out of when she was eating cake. It is a cappuccino cup but perfect for her size. I think she drank more water than usual just because she could use this cup.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We hope you have an enjoyable Halloween with trick or treating fun and all the activities that comes along with this holiday. Stay safe and Have fun. I know we will!

Some Pictures from Our Wonderful Trip to Portland

We recently had the opportunity to take a trip up to Portland. One of the greatest points in our trip was visiting Stinky's new and only cousin on my side. Right away she wanted to give him little kisses. After the kisses she spent the rest of our visit attempting to play with the cat. Unlike our dog's the cat was not cooperative in her desires to hold, pet, and play with it. She did enjoy chasing it and every time it came out of hiding she giggled. I think it was teasing her more than her teasing it. Every time she would lose interest the cat would mysteriously come out of hiding just long enough to gain her interest again. We are trying to convince my DH she needs a little kitty but having no luck.

Our main reason for the trip was a wedding, but once the wedding was over we had some time for some sight seeing. We went to Seattle, took a tour in down town Portland and visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Here are a few pictures from our sightseeing.
Portland has a open air market on Saturdays and Sundays where those selling items are the makers of the items being sold. We had a wonderful time walking through the little shops, stopping for a bite to eat and enjoying the crisp air. Great free activity that put our trip off to a good start.

We were amazed by the drinking fountains in Portland. They are constantly running. In California we are in the midst of a drought so the idea of wasting water like that is foreign. We were told by our tour guide that Portland has an abundance of water. So much so that they use what they need, sell a lot of it off (to California) and still have water to waste. It is interesting how different things can be just two states over.

Friday, October 23, 2009

OOHOOHOOHOOH!

While in Costa Rica we went on a monkey excursion and by far this was Stinky's favorite experience. She loved the monkeys. She can still remember what sound they made, that we were on a boat when we saw them and that they ate bananas. She giggled with so much joy every time they moved and sat in amazement watching them the whole time. With what little words she knew she was able to say, "ooh, ooh, ooh, boat and nana." We bought her a little monkey to bring home and she sleeps with it every night.
So guess who is a monkey for Halloween. I had already started collecting items for a different costume but switched gears when I saw how much she loved the monkey's. It was one of the first time's we saw her interested in something on her own and we wanted to encourage it. She loves her monkey costume and I am sure she will be playing dress up in it until it doesn't fit anymore.
The pattern was fairly easy to follow and it only took me a few hours to complete it. I used flannel instead of the thick fur they had suggested. Being in California it doesn't get cold enough. I am glad I made this change because both times she has worn it the weather has been in the upper 70's.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our Trip to Costa Rica and the Animals We Saw

Recently we went on a family vacation with the chu's to Costa Rica. My DH and I had been there for our honeymoon. We were back in the country we fell in love with four years earlier, but this time with friends and our little Stinky. It was the best way to spend our anniversary.

A few weeks ago Stinky and I were sitting at story time in the library when Ms. Nancy pulled a butterfly puppet out of a box and asked the audience of two year old if they knew what the animal was. As the children quickly responded I thought back to our trip we had returned from only a few day before. Not only had Stinky seen a butterfly, but she had held a butterfly, she had been surrounded by 100's of butterflies, and she had watched one detached from it's little cocoon and fly away. She had experienced butterflies. At that moment I was very grateful for the experiences we provided for our child. I thought back to all the animals Stinky saw, touched and experienced in nature. She lived it instead of watching it from behind a fence or glass. She had lived for two weeks in their natural world watching, listening, and touching all that they are.

This lovely iguana wanted our lunch. We had a picnic down by the ocean and he was relentless in attempting to get our food. He had no fear, he would scurry towards us, we would shoo him away and then he would come back. Sometimes he even brought his friends. Stinky watched, sometimes a little nervous, but most of the time unfazed. She had seen many lizards like this on our trip. Every morning they would be sun bathing outside the condo we were staying in.
We took a walk through a national forest and decided to skip the expensive tour guide. Instead we looked for animals on our own. One tour guide was hunched over with two tourist staring at something. I asked what they were looking at and he said they were staring at an over sized rodent. As I stepped back, I look up and just over their head was a 13 foot boa constrictor in the tree. I pointed the snake out and the tour guide jumped back a little surprised. They had no idea they had been standing under this large snake. It was amazing to see such a huge snake in the wild just relaxing on the tree. This by far was my favorite animal sighting.
We saw many sloths. A little boring as they don't move much, but interesting to see just hanging in the trees.
Our crocodile excursion was amazing. Everyone was surprised that we took the girls on a night tour of the river, but we were glad we did. For the first half we were able to spot eyes of huge crocodiles but as we got close they would go under the murky water. In pitch darkness, one of our barefooted tour guide tells the person captain to stop the boat because he spotted a croc. He jumps of the boat, turns off his flashlight, and SPLASH...... followed by a "Wooaaa". He walked back to the boat with this three year old croc in his hands. Of course my DH pretends to eat it. I am sure he was only half joking, he wants to eat anything with meat. I believe Stinky's response was, "No, No, No, Bye, Bye." She was able to touch it and even hold it on her lap. She thought it was funny when we had it's tail tickle her. Right after he let the little guy go. Both Stinky and Chu fell asleep and the we were able to enjoy a nice boat ride back. What a great experience. Stinky has had a crocodile sit on her lap and she isn't even two yet.