Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mercedes' 3rd Birthday Letter

My Sweet Mercedes,

Today you are 3. You are beautiful inside and out. You have a kind heart, sweet smile, precious voice, golden hair, shining eyes, and lots of love and compassion for people. You are outgoing, chatty, friendly and affectionate. You love to make friends everywhere you go.  You love to sing, use your imagination, tell stories and act out your favorite movies. You love princesses and all things shiny. You are always looking for ways to help. You love to take care of your sister and your puppy. You want to be a doctor when you grow up. You are such a treasure.


I love you so much, baby girl. I love holding your hand, letting you play with my hair, cuddling you to sleep, dancing with you at "the ball" while you twirl around in your princess dress. I love our talks about God and Jesus and heaven and the Bible. I love listening to your sweet, sweet prayers. You teach me and challenge me every day. You help me become a better mom and a better person every day. You are such a precious gift.


Thank you for being my daughter. Thank you for spending time with me, for singing me songs and telling me stories and being my big helper every chance you get. Thank you for being such an awesome kid. I could not ask for a better kid. God knew that I needed you and I'm so thankful that you are my daughter.


You are so independent. Sometimes I forget how little you are because you are so smart and so mature and you try to do everything all by yourself. You get so frustrated when you can't figure something out all by yourself. But sweetie, you will be all grown up way too fast. So for now, just try to enjoy being little. For now, just let me help you with the things that are too big for you. And remember what I always tell you...no matter how big you get, you will always be my baby. Even when you are all grown up with babies of your own, you're still going to be my baby. And even when you're all grown up, I will still be there to help you when you need me.


I love you, my sweet baby girl. Happy birthday!




Thursday, July 25, 2013

Emerald's Tantrum Spot


 Right around Emerald's first birthday, she started throwing tantrums. Not sad or frustrated meltdowns, but full blown, angry, kicking, screaming, SHRIEKING, throwing herself backwards, hitting her head against the floor kind of tantrums, usually directly after telling her something like "we don't play with knives", "it's not safe to climb up the bookshelf" or "sorry, it's raining, we can't play outside right now." These tantrums would last up to 30 or 45 minutes. If I tried to get close to hug her, hold her or nurse her, she'd fight against me, hit me, pull my hair, scratch me, smack me in the face...I knew it was getting out of control. I was worried for her safety since she was so violent about it, and since the tantrums lasted SOOO long and happened several times a day, I was worried for me and Mercedes' sanity. So, Emerald's Tantrum Spot was created.

It's basically the baby version of Mercedes' Chill Spot. At 14 months, she's not old enough to talk about her feelings or help me come up with a better solution. This spot is simply a safe, well padded area where she can kick and thrash around and bang her head against the floor without hurting herself or any of us. And she likes it. She willingly stays there through her tantrum, and as soon as her fit has gone from shrieks of anger to calmer sobs, she comes and finds me (I stay close enough where she knows I haven't left her, but far enough away that my presence doesn't fuel her anger) and gives me a hug and we cuddle and nurse until she's her sunny, smiley self again.

Since I created this spot for her, her tantrums have gone from lasting 30-45 minutes to lasting about 5-10 minutes, and they've gone from several times a day to maybe a couple times a week. I think having a special place to go when she's angry helps her to control her emotions and also realize that it's not acceptable to run around screaming and shrieking all over the house whenever she doesn't get her way. Similar to Mercedes' Chill Spot, Emerald's Tantrum Spot is not meant to be a punishment for her tantrums, but a safe and contained place for her to have her tantrums until she's ready for me to help her calm down. And like Mercedes' Chill Spot, I do not leave her there unless she wants to be there alone. I am always willing to sit there with her unless my presence is fueling her anger.


 She loves her spot. She comes here often to relax, cuddle stuffed animals and baby dolls and read stories. It is a safe, peaceful and happy place for her.



Frozen Water Beads


After playing with our water beads for a few weeks, we decided to see what they'd be like if we stuck them in the freezer.







Water beads sink. Frozen water beads float.





After we were done playing with them, we watched them slowly melt. They were really pretty half-melted.




And they eventually melted back to normal! These things are so crazy!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Preschool Resources and Ideas




Here are a few great resources for crafts and activities that I will be using this fall for Mercedes' Letter of the Week lessons:


After lots of blog reading and Internet searching, I have composed a list of A-Z activities and materials to use for Mercedes' Letter of the Week lessons. It's impossible not to be inspired after skimming through this list!

A
Applesauce
Aluminum foil
Acorn
Alphabet soup

B
Boxes
Balls
Balloons
Beans
Beads
Bath
Bottles
Blocks
Buttons
Berries
Bubbles
Bark
Baking soda
Bubble wrap

C
Crayons
Coffee
Coffee beans
Cereal
Cream
Cocoa
Clay
Cornstarch
Cups
Cookies
Conditioner
Colors
Cardboard
Candy Canes

D
Dirt
Dough (play dough, salt dough, etc)
Digging
Decorating
Dr. Suess
Disco ball
Discovery bottles
Dance

E
Essential Oils
Eggs
Eggshells
Explore
Earth
Eyes
F
Felt
Flowers
Fruit
Flash light
Fragrance
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
  • Pine
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Fruit
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Lavender
  • Chocolate
  • Coconut
  • Almond
  • Peanut Butter
  • Vanilla
Foam
Fishing
Freight Train

G
Gelatin
Glitter
Glue
Garden
Goop
Goo
Grass
Giant (think BIG)
Gravel
Googly eyes
Garlic
Glow sticks

H
Hay
Hair gel
Herbs
Hand prints
Hopscotch
Hunts
Hearts

I
Ice
Ice cream
Icing
Imaginary play
Impressions (play-doh letters)
Instruments

J
Jello
Jelly
Jump
Jump rope
Jumping beans
Jars

K
Kool-aid
Keys
Kite

L
Leaves
Light (glow sticks, flashlights, light table, night light, glow in the dark toys, light up toys)
Lemon juice
Lime juice
Ladybugs
Lollipop

M
Mud
Milk
Milk caps
Magnets
Masking Tape
Music
Monsters
Marbles

N
Night lights
Noodles (pool)
Noodles (pasta)
Nature
Noisy
Necklaces

O
Oreos
Origami 
Oats
Oatmeal
Outdoors
Olympics

P
Paint 
  • Body paint
  • Puffy paint
  • Finger paint
  • Ice paint
  • Spray bottle paint
  • Edible paint
Pasta
Pine cones
Pipe cleaners
Play-doh
Popcorn
Pudding
Puzzles

Q
Quiet
Quick

R
Rice
Race
Rocks
Reading
Rainbows

S
Salt
Salt dough
Sand
Sawdust
Sequins
Spaghetti
Spices
Soil
Stones
Straw
Sugar
Styrofoam
Seeds
Stories
Shells
Shampoo
Shredded paper
Sprinkles
Swimming

T
Tea
Tissue Paper
Toilet Paper
Trays
Tubs
Trains

U
Universe
Uniform
Umbrella
Unzip

V
Vinegar
Videos
Very MESSY! (ooey, gooey and slimy!)

W
Water
Water beads
Wax paper
Wood
Writing
Walnuts

X
Xylophone 
EXplore

Y
Yogurt
Yarn
Yo-yo

Z
Zest (lemon, orange)
Zoo
Zipper


Here are some Letter of the Week food ideas:

This list is mostly inspired by  Preschool Alphabet Foods but I took out some foods that I knew Mercedes wouldn't like and I added a few more ideas of my own. This will be my go-to list when it's time to start grocery shopping for the letter of the week foods!


A
Angel Food Cake
Animal Crackers
Apples
Apple Juice
Applesauce
Apple Pie
Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocado

B
Bacon
Bagels
Banana
Banana Bread
Beans
Beets
Biscuits
Blueberries
Bread
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Butter

C
Cabbage
Cake
Candy
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cereal
Celery
Cheese
Cocoa
Coconuts
Cole Slaw
Cookies
Corn
Corn Chips
Crackers
Cranberries
Cranberry Juice
Cucumbers
Cupcakes

D
Deviled Eggs
Dill Pickles
Dip w/ Veggies
Donuts
Dried Fruits

E
Eggs
Egg Rolls
Elbow Noodles
Enchiladas

F
Fig Newtons
Fish
French Fries
French Toast
Fruit
Fruit Cups
Fudge

G
 Garlic Bread
Ginger Ale
Ginger Snaps
Graham Crackers
Granola
Grapes
Grape Juice
Green Beans
Green Peppers

H
Ham
Hamburgers
Hash Browns
Honey Graham Crackers
Honey & Tea
Honey & Toast
Honeydew
Hot Cocoa
Hot Dogs
Hummus

I
Ice Cream
Iced Tea
Icing

J
Jam
Jello
Jelly
Jelly Beans
Juice
Juice Pops

K
Kabobs
Kidney beans
Kiwi
Kool Aide

L
Lamb
Lasagna
Lentils
Lettuce
Lemons
Lemon Aid
Lemon Meringue Pie
Limes
Lobster
Lollipop

M
Macaroni
Macaroni & Cheese
Mangoes
Marshmallows
Meat
Meat Balls
Melons
Milk
Milk Shakes
Muffins

N
Nachos
Nectarines
Noodles
Nuggets (Chicken)
Nuts

O
Oatmeal
Oatmeal Cookies
Olives
Omelets
Onions
Oranges
Orange Sherbet
Orange Juice
Oreos

P
Pancakes
Peas
Peaches
Pears
Peanut Butter
Peppers
Pickles
Pie
Pineapple
Pizza
Plums
Pop Corn
Potatos
Potato Chips
Pudding
Pumpkin
Pretzels
Pie
Pizza

Q
Quick Bread
Quiche

R
Radishes
Rainbow Sherbet
Raisins
Raisin Oatmeal
Ranch Dip & Veggies
Raspberries
Ravioli
Relish
Rice
Rice Cakes
Rice Crispies
Rice Pudding
Rolls

S
Salad
Salami
Sandwiches
Seafood
Sherbet
S'mores
Soup
Spaghetti
Spinach
Squash
Stew
Strawberries

T
Tapioca Pudding
Tea
Toast
Tomatos
Tortilla Chips
Tuna
Turkey

U
Upside Down Cake

V
Vanilla Cake
Vanilla Ice Cream
Vanilla Pudding
Vanilla Wafers
Vanilla Yogurt
Vegetables
Vegetable Dip
Vegetable Soup

W
Waffles
Walnuts
Water
Water Chestnuts
Watermelon
Whipped Cream

X
"X" Jello
"X" Cookies
"X" Buns

XXX (Chocolate Kisses)

Y
Yams
Yellow Banana Pudding
Yellow Cake
Yellow Cheese
Yogurt

Z
Zoo Animal Cookies
Zucchini
Zucchini Bread
Zebra Cake

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Firework Art

The week before the 4th of July, the girls had a great time decorating the kitchen with "firework" art.



We used their fingers and paintbrushes for some of them.


We splattered watered down paint on a couple of them.


We used squishy ball prints to make some of them...these ended up being my favorite.




We used glue, glitter and sequins for shiny fireworks.


My kitchen is now full of firework art. I love it! It will probably be there til Christmas. =-)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Squishy Ball Fireworks


I found these squishy balls in the dollar section at Target. I have also seen them at Walmart and The Dollar Tree and they are probably sold at a ton of other places. Turns out they are super fun to paint with, and their prints make incredible firework paintings!







Thursday, July 11, 2013

The 4th of July (2013)

 I am all about starting traditions for my little family during the holidays.The 4th of July is one of my favorites because I am crazy about fireworks and about summertime in general, so I always have a great time on the 4th.


 A couple weeks before the 4th of July, we started collecting decorations from The Dollar Tree. On July 1st, the girls and I decorated the living room.




 On the 4th of July morning, the girls enjoyed red and blue star-shaped kool-aid ice cubes.


 We ate an early lunch of blueberry pancakes topped with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.




 Grandpa Bruce got to enjoy the 4th of July weekend with us.

 I love this picture because it totally looks like both girls fell asleep during their photo shoot, as peaceful and sweet as can be!

 My mom and some of my siblings came over for an outdoor cookout...it was SUCH a beautiful day and not at all too hot to hang out outside all day!


 My sister-in-law made this incredible double layer red, white and blue jello cake.
.

We watched Eudora's city firework show. I made sure the girls had a million glow sticks to keep them occupied while we waited for the fireworks to start.


 Both the girls did amazing considering the loud noises and huge lights in the sky as well as staying up hours past their bedtime.

The whole day was great fun!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Colored Water Beads


 We have been having so much fun with water beads! We played with the clear ones for a few days, then decided to see if we could dye them pretty colors.


 We just separated them into different cups and poured a food coloring and water mixture into each one.


 We let them sit overnight, dumped out the water and they turned out gorgeous!






 I am so fascinated by these things. When they get smashed they totally look like broken glass!





Here's what the colored ones look like in water.



After they soak in water for a while the color comes out...and then you can dye them all over again! I love these things!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Water Bead Sensory

Water beads are our new favorite sensory material these days! They are actually made for flower vases, but they are wonderful for sensory play because while they look like shiny marbles, they are soft, squishy and slippery to the touch. Plus they bounce on hard surfaces, and they disappear in water! We are totally fascinated by these things and have spent many, many hours exploring with them! You can order them online or find them at most craft stores. We bought ours at The Dollar Tree.