Friday, January 31, 2014

A Big First

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Tonight we are having our first babysitter for Skyler. Having three sets of grandparents living nearby, we always have someone to watch Skyler when we take time away (which is pretty rare anyways), but tonight we are branching out.

I started babysitting when I was eleven. My mom runs an in-home daycare center and I have babysat for many of her families. One family, my M+M, I started watching way back in 2005.  

Skyler and the ladies (or as we say M+M(+)'S now) at the MN Zoo this summer.
All these years later, my little ladies are all grown up and now they are watching our baby (funny story: one time in high school, Joe and I took both of them to the grocery store, little M in the cart and big M walking alongside, and got a very mean look from an older woman who apparently thought we were twelve when we began procreating)! The older M is thirteen now, has taken babysitting classes, and I know has been wanting to watch Skyler. Even though we do not necessarily need a babysitter with our parents close by, I am so excited.

M+M(+)'S at the apple orchard this fall.
This family is like my own and I know those two ladies love my boy almost as much as I do. The little M is coming along to play and keep her sister entertained after baby boy goes to sleep, and I know he is going to be thrilled to see them both. 

Skyler has spent a lot of time with these two. We always try to go to my mom's house when they are there on non-school days and this fall we spent a few days at their house when their parents were on a trip. Skyler adores them both. 

Skyler and big M at their house this fall.
We are so appreciative of the family and friends we have, and how much love Skyler has in his life. With Joe having an upcoming Army training away from home, missing both his birthday and Valentine's Day, we thought we would take the opportunity to go out for dinner (and maybe even run some errands with no little one - what?!? So exciting!) 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Owl Always Love You Craft

The aftermath from a very snowy morning.
Really wishing I would have remembered the garbage cans yesterday!
It was kind of a bummer to wake up and see the snow falling fast and thick as we had a fun day planned. We had breakfast and dinner plans with a play date in between and really needed to make a trip to the grocery store and Home Depot, but when living in the Minnesota winter, sometimes plans must be forgotten. Even though we were mostly stuck inside, we made the best of it. Skyler and I spent our snow day:

Of course, watching the snow fall out our windows in the morning and the plows in the afternoon

Playing with our Valentine rice sensory bin

Trying out a new stamping set (which is getting returned...very disappointing!) I am still on the hunt to get some stamping sets for Skyler after he loved making the potato prints so much!

Going for a snowy walk around the neighborhood in the sled, searching for snow plows

 So much snow on our driveway!

Working on our fine motor skills with our feathery birds and fuzzy caterpillar

Stacking and knocking over our favorite soft blocks

It's not so bad being stuck inside all day when you get to look at that cute face!


Lots of


Skyler always spreads books out like this when we read them, creating a huge fan of books. It is so cute :)

Making banana bread

And we also made these cute little owls for our shelf today.

You don't have to look around our home for long to realize that I kind of like owls. In Skyler's room, his mobile, pillows, 'piggy' bank, 'owl'phabet poster and many books feature my favorite animal. In our living room there is a favorite stuffed animal of Skyler's and many owl sculptures on our almost filled up Valentine shelf. And, of course our semi-matching winter gear with his hat and my gloves (a Christmas gift made by my mother-in-law...I am pretty lucky!!) We don't need to talk about the number of owl necklaces and coffee cups I have...

My goal was to make our shelf completely decorated for Valentine's Day, so I decided to swap out my little owl figures with some owls made by my little Valentine. We had a lot of fun making these multimedia owls and just spending time together.

To make our owls, we used two paper towel rolls and two toilet paper rolls that I cut into different lengths, foam, red paint and a paint dabber, Valentine stickers, scrapbook paper (that we used for our Valentine Kiss Canvas, I love chevron almost as much as I love owls), google eyes, and some leftover doilies from our yarn painted sun catchers.

The two tallest tubes got the heart doilies glued on upside down, three were rolled in the scrapbook paper with the top folded in to make the ears, and Skyler painted three with red paint. He also used the paint dabbers on white paper, which made the faces for the owls with doilies.

With our various supplies, we added beaks, wings, and eyes, and switched out these owls

For our homemade Valentine owls

They are a little explosion of pinks and reds - I love them!

They definitely make our Valentine themed shelf look very festive!

Joe got home early from a few days away for Army training, so we did end up keeping our dinner plans at my dad's house (Skyler had a lot of fun playing and listening to my dad's banjo!) since the weather got a lot nicer in the afternoon. It was such a great day with my little Valentine though, I just love watching him learn and grow and spending these full days playing with him. It has been almost a year since I quit my job to be a stay-at-home mama and every day I still cannot believe that I am living my dream, being able to spend my days teaching my son.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fine Motor Counting with Pipe Cleaners

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The thought for this cute pipe cleaner caterpillar came from our love of the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and my mission to use up some of our empty plastic egg cartons (like our Valentine cups for our sensory bin, fine motor feathery birds, and our see through familiar item shakers). I have decorated many egg carton caterpillars in my days as a camp counselor, but this one is a little different. Not only our painting method, taking advantage of the clear plastic, but also the learning activities that are a part of it. 

The set of acrylic paints we have has the primary colors, and none of the secondary colors, so before this activity, we did a little color mixing. This is the first time I have done color mixing with Skyler, and it was a lot of fun. We just put little blobs of paint on some plastic wrap, and then Skyler helped me mix them up with paint brushes. When he saw the changing colors, he was able to tell me what they were! Saying his colors is something he does a lot lately, and I always make sure to use colors as descriptive words when speaking with him.

For this activity, we only needed to use the green paint, but we used the other paint colors to start another activity as well. Skyler got to work, painting the inside of all the egg carton cups. 

Skyler very carefully filled in all the cups with the green paint, and after it dried, I was able to assemble our new fine motor friend. 

With our fine motor birds with feathers, I just needed a small hole for the feathers and used the same nail as pictured above, but with the pipe cleaners, I knew there needed to be bigger holes. To create the holes, I started with the nail, and then twisted the screw into the hole until it was big enough. I also gave our critter some google eyes.

For our pipe cleaners, I cut them about pinky length. This would be a great step for older children to do, pipe cleaners are fun to cut - they make a great noise and snap off super quick!

Not only is this activity great for fine motor skills, using the pipe cleaners to thread into the holes, but I also made this a counting activity. On the tops of the cups I did the holes from numbers one through five (I also made holes along the sides). We have been talking a lot about counting lately, not only with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but many other books and just in our day to day routines. Skyler usually only counts "One, two" and sometimes will say three, but he loves to point while I count. 

Our finished caterpillar looks so cute, just with the numbered tops filled, or completely filled!

It's so fluffy!
We had a very fun afternoon playing with our fine motor caterpillar. Skyler started playing with it sitting on the carpet and then picked it up and tried to play with it that way, so I set out our side table and he stood there and played with it for a long time, then would run off and come back when he felt like it. We talked about the colors of the pipe cleaners and the number of holes of the caterpillar. We talked about putting the pipe cleaners "in" and taking them "out" and this happened a lot, as Skyler filled, emptied, and refilled the caterpillar at least a dozen times.

Our feathered fine motor birds are an activity that Skyler wants to play with frequently, and I know that the pipe cleaner version will be another popular choice in our house.