Monday, January 30, 2012

Rainbow Party

Last Thursday Anastasia, my firstborn, turned FIVE. There is hardly any of that 6 1/2 pound baby left in this little girl. She still has the strong will she entered the world with, the beautiful head of dark, brown curls, and the same pout she gave us the moment she was born. Other than that, it is hard to believe she is the same little person. She has grown into a very imaginitive, very passionate young lady. She keeps everyone in line, and holds us to our word. She dances with grace that she absolutely did not get from her mother. She dreams about princesses and castles, asks about her prince, and wished to become a fairy someday while blowing out her candles. She is beautiful in every way possible. And I can't believe she is 5.
To celebrate her 5th year, she wanted to have a rainbow party. I am not sure if it was her idea entirely, or if she knocked it off of one of her friends, but either way I was thrilled not to be planning a princess party! And rainbows are so colorful and fun!
Not only did we have one rainbow party, but my mom also hosted a family party for Anastasia last weekend. So she let the girls decorate the cake with M&Ms in the shape of a rainbow! It turned out so pretty! (Much better than mine!)
Kieran's favorite part was blowing up balloons, and I had to take this picture of him looking like a little baby hunk. Can you believe his curls? It is a good thing he is so cute, because he is 100% trouble.
Anastasia helped glue cotton balls onto this free printable rainbow quote as part of the decorations. I would like to actually frame it and put it somewhere on her wall near her bed. Especially because she LOVES the Judy Garland version of the song. I also made an entire playlist of rainbows and color songs on Spotify. I was so busy at the party to even put it somewhere central to play, but I enjoyed listening to it all week.I think I had the most fun making rainbow decorations for this party! I made a little bunting out of scrapbook paper (that was on sale at Michael's for 5 for $1!!!) and I made a little "cloud" garland out of cotton balls strung on some embroidery floss. It was super easy, and cute. I also made a rainbow out of streamers that spread across the table. And my dad gave Anastasia a rainbow bouquet which added perfectly to the party!
For food we had pizza, salad, bread, popcorn with M&Ms (one of my favorite combos!), rainbow goldfish and a raibow fruit tray:
The fruit tray idea came from here and was probably the most popular food served. I think I ate the popcorn mostly on my own with a bottle of Sierra Nevada after the party. Yikes.
Because our house is tiny, and seating is limited the kids had a picnic on the twister mat in Anastasia's bedroom. I saw this idea somewhere, but I can't remember where. I am just happy not to have pizza sauce on my couch. At least not more than my kids left on there last week. We actually tried to play twister, but most of the kids didn't quite get it. They all fell down on purpose so they wouldn't have to play anymore. But the treasure hunt was (as always) a hit:
I had the kids follow the rainbow by finding color clues... a red ornament, yellow book, orange bathmat, etc... to reach the pot of gold.
For a craft I set out rainbow beads, scissors and string. I don't know that anyone made anything while they were here, but we have found beads all over the floor, and since the party many necklaces and bracelets have been made.
I think this is one of my favorite shots from the party, of Anastasia and one of her best friends, Zita. Notice the cake in the pyrex. It was a disaster. It was so bad, it deserves a post of its own. It has a happy ending, but I am about to swear off cake decorating forever.
We sent everyone home with a rainbow goodie bag that the girls helped fill and Anastasia gave everyone a piece of original art work. I made the little notebooks from scrap book paper and printer paper. I found the crayons at the Dollar Store for 4 for $1, and they had rainbows on them! I intended to make glitter rainbow playdough for everyone, but Anastasia's grandparents sent her 40 small packs of playdough for her birthday which saved me a little time, energy and money. I am sure I will make rainbow playdough another day!
The kids had such a nice time, and even though our house is tiny, we fit everyone in, had plenty to eat, and enough rounds of tickle monster to last a lifetime. I am so blessed to have such a beautiful, colorful little 5-year old in my life for yet another year. :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow Dough

If you have not tried making "snow" or "cloud" dough yet, you should make it right now! I used 4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of canola oil for each pan (and added a few more teaspoons of oil until it clumped well. It is light and fluffy like flour, and then it can be clumped up into little balls or mounds, cakes or walls!
The kids played with this for a couple hours. Of course, their little princess dolls came by to play in the snow. It is nice to have pretend snow when the real snow is scarce. I even made Kieran Pie his own bowl of snow:
He really liked scooping it onto the towel. It isn't the cleanest activity, but flour is pretty easy to sweep up. And I imagine it is bettter than ashes. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Operation Occupy Toddler

You might not know it, because this boy is so darn cute, but he is a TON of trouble. Remember how I told you he plays in the ashes? Well I solved that problem, but now he opens the woodstove door WHILE THE FIRE IS BURNING!?!?!?! I guess that is a bit safer than his other hobby of unplugging anything that is plugged in, and sticking his fingers in the sockets!!! Who does that? My perfect-baby-turned-terrible-toddler, that is who. So I am trying to find safer hobbies made from things we already have for him:First I made him a reading nook with a stacker and some nesting bowls. I put mason jar bands on the stacker for him, because they are easier, and he likes throwing the bands. The bowls are too much for him too, so I usually just hand him 2 or 3 to stack and fill with things.
Putting toothpicks in the pepper flake jar. This has been a favorite of all my children, and he will do it over, and over, and over again.
If you try this, watch your baby so he doesn't poke himself. I guess non-pointy toothpicks would be a better option...
My friend Sharon gifted Kieran with this box of animal magnets. What a great toy these have been! He plays with them every day. I would say this was his favorite toy this Christmas.
Simple containers and lids are also a huge hit! I raided the girl's kitchen for these items. Any containers with lids that are easy to remove are a great idea!
And I put little surprises of varying shapes and textures inside. He played with this for about 3 days quite a bit. I need to find new shaped lids and containers, and try hiding new things inside.
A simple bottle and pom poms. He had a hard time shaking them out, but the girls enjoy making "fireworks" pop out of the bottle for him. Then he cleans up.
This was waaaay to hard for him, but Isabel loved it! I used leftover pipecleaners with pompoms on the ends. I think the pepper container might work better as the holes are bigger. He did enjoy pulling them out.
I don't think an explanation is needed. this was simple, and he liked it.
Mostly he liked the egg carton. And then he liked throwing the pom poms. He is a little crazy but we love him anyway.

***I was originally inspired by ideas in this post. And there are more HERE.

***Also, for those of you mom's of little ones who haven't read this article, you must read this blog post, "Don't Carpe Diem". This is one of the most encouraging articles I have read in a while. Because sometimes blogs can be such misleading little windows into people's lives. And it is easy to wonder why my own life feels so imperfect and so hard when other people make it look so easy and blissfull. ALL THE TIME. I feel better to know, I am not alone!

***I am waiting for Nick to come home so I can outrun this snow storm and get to my mom's tonight, so tomorrow we can take the girls to a Princess Party to meet some "real" princesses. Excited is an understatement of how to describe my girls.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Its beginning to look a lot like winter!

Well, at least indoors it is looking like winter! We have had the strangest weather this year. We have probably worn our coats 5 times, and today it was about 60 degrees! We have also had snows on these warmer days that look like blizzards, then leave a little dusting, melt, turn to ice at night, and leave the world a muddy wonderland. I am not complaining though. I HATE winter and cold. But I do love snow. So we decorated our nature table with wool snow, imagining it to be someplace in Alaska. I love the fairies, and their little cups of cocoa with whipped cream. I like how cozy and cold they look, and then I like walking outside into sunny, warm mud. Yet I still have this fascination with winter...
We made winter sensory trays out of those cheap dollar store baking pans, and all kinds of wintry items I had laying around the house. I was lucky enough to happen upon some really cute woodland, winter house kits made of foam (that made our entire table sparkle with stray glitter) for $2 on clearance at Michaels. Cotton balls, marbles, pom poms beads and other tacky glitter accessories made for hours of play for two little girls and their new obsession: Lalaloopsy dollies.
And because my adoable baby, is an even more adorable toddler (and unfortunately even more trouble) I made him a little wintry basket too. I included a felt tree, a wooden tree, pine needles, Christmas balls (made of plastic) a nut, a snowman in a bean pot, a pinecone, gnome, deer, sled, mitten, cupcake cup of cotton balls and a non-baby friendly glass jar of pebbles. He really likes pulling everything out and throwing it all over the floor. And can I just say that the jar of pebbles was a TERRIBLE IDEA. First he threw the jar and broke it, and then he put the pebbles in his mouth. He is in fact a BOY and failing the Montessori training. Hahaha. He did like the snowman best:
He says cheese. And it is very cute when he does. It isn't cute when he gets into the ashes from the woodstove and covers himself with them. Then when he feels sufficiently camoflauged with the ashes, he throws them all over the floor. I think I just need to be a better house keeper and empty the ashes in the morning... and sweep the stove area 10 times a day. Or get my 4-year old to sweep it. She is obsessed with sweeping the ashes which turns the kitchen into a cloud of dust. And sometimes when she sweeps we play Cinderella and the wicked step mother. Can you guess who I get to play? :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Brand New Year...

...and a whole new level of craziness begins. Isn't Isabel's "park" outfit the cutest thing in blogland right now? I love how ready she is for whatever adventure may come. Oh! And I made the net! Its fantastic right? We haven't actually caught anything in them yet... but they sure are cute (which is very important). I used the tutorial here (only I used cotton fabric instead of netting) and made them as favors for the stinkbug party. The girls use them more for carrying toys around.
We spent new years at my friend Tara's house down in Christiansburg. It was a 3-hour trip each way, but we had such a peaceful drive thanks to the car-dvd player system my parents gifted us for Christmas. I think it was for the girls, but I think Nick and I benefited the most due to the LACK OF WHINING the whole trip! Thanks Mom and Dad! Anyway, we spent new years eve making gingerbread houses and playing games. I had such a nice time reconnecting with our old friend. And our girls, and her boy ran around like crazy people. Good times!
Kieran is feeling much better, even if he is still a bit grumpy. Turns out he had Strep throat (which is caused by the same bacteria that causes Scarlet Fever)! Actually, shortly after my previous post, his temperature spiked to 104.5 and Nick took him to Urgent Care. They poked and prodded him, X-rayed him, took his urine in a very icky way, and then poked him several times unsuccessfully. I know they did their best, but they never looked in his mouth. I wouldn't be terribly angry about that, except Nick asked them if they were going to and the Dr. said it wasn't necessary. AND THEN when I joined them, I noticed him sticking his tongue out a lot and mentioned that he wasn't latching on while nursing, and seemed to be having a difficult time swallowing. I was thinking maybe he had some issues from his seizure, so Nick asked the doctor to look in his mouth, but he said it had nothing to do with what was wrong with him. So instead, we had to take him to the ER to get poked again! UGH. The next day we took him to our pediatrician (Dr. Hoebel who is AWESOME!!!) who asked right off the bat, "did he get a Strep test, because that is probably what it is!" And sure enough, he had a really bad case of Srep Throat. And of course the next day we all had it. So instead of champagne, we are starting our new year off with shots of pretty pink amoxicillin! Cheers!
I am so grateful it wasn't anything more serious after such a scare! And even though I often think living hundreds of years ago during a simpler time in history, would be so ideal, the reality is mothers lost their babies and children to things that seem simple to us today like Strep Throat. Even George Washington might have died of Strep Throat. I just feel so grateful for the same antibiotics and vaccines that often get a bad rep these days because I did not have to watch my baby die helplessly. Yes, we really do have it so good. And even though you can't see it in the picture above, Kieran is sleeping in our bed, on a huge pile of pillows, like the little pampered prince that he is. I love that boy. We are so blessed. :)