Friday, February 19, 2010

NC Snow

Like most of the country (has Hawaii had a snow yet this winter?) we experienced a big snowfall here in Durham. People who don't know about this area sometimes think it's normal to have snow here. It's not. Central Arkansas and central North Carolina have very similar weather. And they are no better equipped to deal with it here either. Snow on Saturday, no school until late delay on Thursday! This was the most snow seen here in quite some time. We had it on the last weekend in January. The flakes were big and beautiful. The snow was powdery, not right for making snowmen and too deep for making snow angels, but there was plenty of other fun to be had.
Brady's friend A goes to school with her and lives a street over, so we were able to play with her on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday there was still precipitation and lots of strong cold wind coming down, so the play didn't last long. But, on Sunday conditions were better and the girls played for a good bit. Lots of hot chocolate and treats were consumed over the weekend. Unfortunately there are no hills or inclines of any sort in our neighborhood. Adam was working all weekend, so there was no chance of exploring other options. Brady got sick with a high fever on Monday, so we sat around for several days after the snow weekend.
Duke is our snow dog. He really enjoys being in the snow as long as someone is out there with him.

Birthday Countdown

We enjoyed counting down to Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas. In fact we celebrated Advent so much that I thought it was a must to count down to Brady's big day. In fact I keep thinking we'd start on January 1st (3 weeks before) and then we didn't and then I thought we'd start 2 weeks before, but she wasn't interested in making something, then I thought surely we'd start with 1 week left, but it still didn't happen. So finally 4 days before her Birthday I came up with this very simple idea which I think we'll do each year (for as long as she lets me) starting a day earlier, making a slightly bigger cake and adding a candle each year.

Here's what we did: I drew a very rough outline of a cake and 4 candles. Then she cut them out. She got to decorate her cake with markers and glitter glue however she wanted. And then she tore some yellow tissue paper to represent the flames for the candles. B then glued those to the candles. We taped the cake onto a door and each day she taped on another candle until we got to her Birthday!

Celebrating with Great Friends and Family

We had lots of special friends attend Brady's Birthday party and even a few special family members were able to be there! Adam's mom (Nana) and grandmother (Mammaw Twila) made a last minute decision to make the big drive up from Arkansas. And we are so glad they did. Not sure if the party would've been pulled off without them.
Of course Brady's bestie was there and her mom, my special friend offered to take pictures for me! I gladly accepted.
See- lots of special friends!
And it's always a special treat for Daddy to be with us.
Brady was so excited to have so many people she loves be there that she could hardly contain herself!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last-minute Valentine Crafts (last year)

We've been celebrating Valentine's Day in several ways this year, but as usual I'm late on uploading pics and updating the blog. So, I thought I'd post a few things we did last year that you can do right now with your kiddos or tomorrow on heart day! These shaped pizzas of mine are probably getting a bit old to you, but this one is so simple, I had to mention it. A heart-shaped pizza; I have a tiny heart cookie cutter, so I cut the pepperonis into hearts as well. Last night I made this with a twist- individual heart-shaped pizzas. (not as big of a hit because there was too much crust involved)
Next up conversation hearts math activities. I'm certain you've got a box of these or something similar lying around.
-Have your kid sort them into colors, then see how many there are of each color. This year we really talked about most, least, equal (2 colors had the same amount), etc.

-Take a piece of paper and draw hearts (trace around a cookie cutter or draw free hand), circles, or divide into a simple grid. Then write numbers in each shape. Do whatever numbers you like, but remember they add up, be certain you've got enough heart candies or whatever you are using as a counter.

-Do some patterning with the hearts (again be certain you have enough of each color in the pattern). You can begin the pattern and then have your little one finish it up or if they are ready (Brady was this year) have them create their own pattern. I did have to help her see that having only one purple didn't lend itself well to making a pattern.
After all that hard work- eat up (if you like those nasty conversation hearts)!

We've also done lots of activities with heart shaped stickers. I wrote the letters of the alphabet randomly on some sheets of heart stickers and then had her place them in alphabetical order. I wrote the numbers 1-30 on some foam heart stickers and had her place them in numerical order. We are working on recognizing 11-30. Those seem to be tricky so I helped with these and I could see her little brain working as we went. It helped that I had the numbers on 3 different colored hearts so that they made a pattern as well.

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm sure you can come up with these or some other quick easy crafts and learning activities.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pony Party Part 2: Activities

As the guests entered the party I had coloring/dot marker sheets for them on the big table we borrowed from Brady's school. About half of the girls went straight back to B's room and changed into dress-up clothes and played with toys. The other half sat down at the table and had a great time with the simple craft projects. Do-a-dot markers are always a huge hit particularly with kids who have never used them and there is no mess. I highly recommend them. (Buy them at Michael's with the 40% off coupon.)
After some time passed I brought out fruit loops and yarn to make rainbow necklaces. My friend Emily was a huge help with this project. Again some girls were interested and some found Brady's toys to be much more enticing. Brady herself bopped about from room to room for the most part. I knew that at a kids' party the activities may or may not go over well, which is why I kept it simple. As necklace-making was wrapping up I called all the girls in to make pony puppets. Unfortunately no pictures were taken, probably because all hands were on deck for this one. I'll try to post about it soon.
Then we had a pin the tail on the pony game. I drew/painted a big pony on a piece of poster board. And made individual tails out of shiny basket filling stuff (I don't know the correct term). The girls put a sleeping mask over their eyes and were spun around one time before placing the tail onto the pony. After this we had the Birthday cake and other snacks.
Then it was time for the pinata. A pony pinata, of course. Watching a bunch of 3 and 4 year old girls hit a pinata was a laugh riot! Fortunately we had one big girl friend who helped it along; she even knocked the body off the head. But eventually I had to grab it and tear it apart, then sprinkle the candy on the ground. Notice the hanging pony head in the next picture. I was amazed at how calm the girls were while picking up the treats. The next day there was still candy in the carport. We finished up the party by opening the Birthday gifts. (And, wow, was she ever gifted! Thank you, thank you, dear friends!) I think the party had a great balance of activities and free play. It was a fun day!

Pony Party Part 1 : The Food

Brady's 4th Birthday party had a "My Little Pony" theme. Taking this theme on was a true act of love, because I would have never chosen this theme. For months I tried to change her mind, but she held firm (as she always does) so a My Little Pony Party with NO boys is what we had. I tried my best to make it a classy pony party! There is lots to share, so I'm breaking it down into several posts. First up- the food!
I made this rainbow cake. It's made from white cake mix which is divided into 6 bowls, then each portion is colored a color of the rainbow, assemble it in rainbow order with frosting between each layer and all over the top. I first saw this on whatever , one of my favorite blogs and was smitten. The cake proved to be simple and delightful. When it was cut there was much oohing and aahing. Thanks to Nana for frosting it the morning of the party- huge help!
We had scads of pony cookies. B also took some of these to school on her actual Birthday. They are sugar cookies with royal icing.
Then there was pony food- apple slices, carrots, and haystacks. Haystacks are a delicious and simple dessert; if you've never had them you are missing out on something great.
And we had pony cupcakes. I tweaked a recipe from the Hello, Cupcake! cookbook my mom bought me. The necks are sugar wafers and the heads are circus peanuts covered in melted candy wafers.
We also had some pony punch (punch juice boxes) and pink lemonade for the grown-ups. Yummy, yummy!