Sunday, November 23, 2014

Muddy Hike at Tilden Park

Tilden Park, just outside of Berkeley is pretty much heaven for Calvin. Maybe second to the zoo... but maybe not. We've been to Lake Anza beach in Tilden Park a couple of times in warmer weather. Today we visited the Little Farm and walked around Jewel Lake. Next time I definitely want to take the boys for a ride on the steam train and there's also a carousel that we haven't checked out yet, plus of course, more hiking trails. This place is amazing. So many things to do and it's just beautiful.

By the time we got there, we were hungry for lunch so we sat down for a picnic before heading over to the Little Farm. 

Chickens and geese and ducks - oh my!

At the Little Farm, you're allowed to feed some of the animals either lettuce or celery, but you have to bring it yourself. We didn't bring any, so at first Calvin started picking up tiny shreds that had fallen on the ground and was feeding those to the goats. Then a man who was there with a kid about Calvin's age gave us some of the lettuce they had brought so Calvin was able to feed the animals :)

These two goats were gettin' feisty over that lettuce!

When the cow's big tongue came out, Calvin panicked! He wouldn't feed the cows after that.

Calvin was still a little shy of the cow. But he liked watching the other kids feed her.

After we left the farm area, we walked through the education center. 

Then we walked to Jewel Lake and followed the trail around the lake. It was very muddy because we've had rain the past few days. Calvin found some puddles to throw rocks in.

The kid likes to make a splash.

Calvin also found a spot to throw rocks into the lake. 

Hanging out while big brother plays by the water.

Those two nuggets are some cute babies. #totallybiased

It was a fun day. I got grumpy at the end because I wound up covered in mud from carrying Calvin and his muddy shoes... but overall it really was nice. Mud and all. Such a fun park! Next time, steam train!

Anybody else love Tilden Park? Other favorite parks for toddlers in the SF bay area? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall Fingerpaint Trees

I've got another fall art project to share - and Henry got to do this one too! I've been doing art projects almost exclusively with Calvin, but I realize that Henry is at point in his development where not only is he able to start participating in the things his big brother does (with some modifications), but it's probably really good for his development, too.

Just yesterday Calvin and I were noticing the pretty fall colors on the trees and talking about how the leaves on some of the trees are orange or yellow or red. Calvin likes how the brown fallen leaves crunch under his sneakers. Who doesn't?! So today I talked with him about making a tree like the ones we saw yesterday and get this guys - when I asked him to name the colors of the paint... HE GOT THEM ALL RIGHT!! He correctly named the paint colors red, orange, and yellow. Maybe he is not color blind after all ;)

We used tempera paint and fingerpaint, because that's what I had on hand in the colors I wanted to use. I cut little paper cups into shallow bowls for the paint. I used a brown sharpie to draw the trees ahead of time (P.S. If SAHM's had prep-time it would be so much easier to do stuff like this. Amiright?). If you're not into drawing trees, you could also print one from the interweb. Or with older kids, they could draw the trees themselves.

Sorry about the blurry pics! It's hard to catch the kiddos in action. Especially Henry because I was also trying to keep him from destroying his tree painting!

This was Henry's first fingerpaint encounter. And good thing it is non-toxic, because his little paint-covered fingers went straight into his mouth! So for my little paint-eater I quickly switched to yogurt and jelly "painting" instead.

Tastes much better than fingerpaint!
Calvin had a blast. And when his tree was finished (according to him), he asked for more trees to paint.

Henry looks a little sad here. Maybe he thinks his yogurt and jelly isn't as much fun as real paint.

The trees turned out so beautifully. While they were painting, Calvin said he wanted to go see trees again and we talked about our hiking trip a couple of weeks ago. I asked if he would like to go hiking this weekend with Daddy and he said yes, and that he would like to invite his friends to come hiking too. Maybe we'll pick a hike with some nice fall colors :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fall Fruits Stamp Art

When those "baby" pumpkins that were so fun to hunt for started showing some spots, I sliced them in halves for a different kind of pumpkin painting!

I spread paper all over our coffee table and taped it down so we had a big space to work with. I set out three different stamp pads with washable paint and I put half of a pumpkin on each pad. These washable paint pads didn't put much pigment on the pumpkins. Ours might be drying out since we've had them for about a year now. But they're great because there's so little mess involved.

I put Calvin's smock on him and we started stamping!

A hand also makes a great stamp ;)
Calvin discovered that three pumpkins stamped together look like Mickey Mouse! 

Calvin also thought that the yellow pumpkin stamps looked like lions! So I put a face on this one and added legs.

On a different day, we did some stamping with apples. I saw this idea on Pinterest from an older post on the website Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds - Cut the apple so that it has its own handle for stamping! So clever.

We used tempera paint this time, and I used slices cut out from the apple to mix up some colors. 

Apple stamp! Or... ya know... hand stamp. Whatever.

I am noticing that Calvin is much more comfortable putting his hands in the paint and getting a little messy compared to a few months ago. Guess that's a good thing for his sensory development, even if it's a little messier! Oh well, it's all washable paint anyway!

We even used those little slices for painting.
He asked for another Mickey Mouse so I made this one for him ;)

I love how our pictures turned out! You miiiiiiight be able to tell which ones were mine and which ones were Calvin's...

We did apple stamping again yesterday because I had some apples that were getting too mushy to eat. This time we used bright red tempera paint and also the red stamp pad. We used both real apples and our apple-shaped foam stamp.

This art project is easy to throw together with things already in the house. It seems like kind of a shame to use perfectly yummy fruit for painting... (but it's for the sake of art, right??)... so we tend to use things that are already getting overripe.

Any other ideas for fall fruits and veggies? Maybe other small gourds and squash?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Little Tykes and a Little Hike

Things are feeling like they are back to normal around here after a crazy October. Some good crazy, like lots of fun Halloween stuff and watching our SF Giants win the World Series! But some pretty tough crazy, like Henry spending a week in the hospital. So it's nice to be back to our version of normal - though I do miss getting to watch the Giants play almost every night!

Henry is doing really well now that he is all recovered from his surgery.

Like, really really well :)

No more puking or reflux symptoms, even at night. No more chronic runny nose. No more meds at mealtime. Still a little snoring, and he does have to use the BiPAP when he sleeps, but he is getting closer to sleeping through the night again and we can tell that he is getting better quality sleep because he's also transitioned to just one nap (like a big boy!) and he's starting to show signs of reaching more milestones!

He's started doing his own version of "commando" crawling, which usually looks like he is swimming across the floor.

And yesterday for the first time I saw him move himself from lying down to sitting up all on his own! And then he wouldn't stay lying down for nap time... Good one, Henry. Touché.

He's babbling a lot and eating a lot and I'd swear he's had a growth spurt in the last two weeks. It's wonderful to see!

Calvin is also doing well. He's all recovered from his clavicle injury and he's been out of the sling for a couple of weeks now. No news on a date for his hernia surgery. We decided to wait until his clavicle was all healed up, and we are not in a hurry to head back to LPCH. Calvin's got another evaluation coming up with his SLP (speech and language pathologist) doc at Stanford next week, so I will write a more detailed wellness update on him after that.

Henry has another sleep study coming up this weekend, so we will get some info on exactly what settings on the BiPAP are right for him and just how well it is helping him sleep.

We've had no doctor appointments for two weeks in a row, which may not sound like a lot, but to me it feels like a big break! I imagine that things will start to feel stressful again once we get the ball rolling again on Calvin's medical stuff, but for now I'm thankful for things feeling a little calmer around here.

We took a little hiking trip last weekend up near Mt. Tam. Beautiful weather, beautiful location. Our friend Matt and his daughter, Autumn, came with us and Autumn and Calvin were super cute toddling along the trail.

Calvin loved picking up little rocks and pine cones and his favorite thing to do was to throw rocks into the little creeks and pond.

Happy Fall, y'all.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Ending the Countdown with a Pumpkin Hunt

Happy Halloween!!!

We've got a big day ahead of us. Starting with Krispy Kreme Halloween donuts. Serious business. Then, we are braving the Giants parade with the babies! - I know, we are crazy. But I feel like it's a good kind of crazy ;) And tonight we are getting together with friends for a Halloween party and our kids' first time trick-or-treating.

I saved my favorite Halloween play idea for this last countdown post. It's my favorite because it's so simple, but it's so fun with Calvin because he really gets a kick out of it... it's Pumpkin Hunting!!

At Easter, Calvin loved hunting for eggs. So I just knew he'd love hunting for pumpkins too! And he does!

I bought 5 little pumpkins (Calvin calls them "baby pumpkins") and while Calvin was napping, I hid them around the living room. 

Henry found one! 

After Calvin got up from his nap (and went potty... and had a snack... and I put Henry down for a nap...) he started his pumpkin hunt! I put a basket on the table in the middle of the room for him to collect the pumpkins in.

Check out that bed-head!

Yaaaaay Calvin! What a cute cheeky guy.

Once he found all five, he wanted to play again, so I made him go into the kitchen (which in our apartment is really the same room, just on the other side of the couch) while I hid the pumpkins again. This was the hardest part! He kept peeking while I was trying to hide them! #cheating

Here is an awesome-hilarious-adorable-kind-of-long video of our second go at pumpkin hunting. I did say that he loves pumpkin hunting... I never said he was good  at it ;)

Cracks me up every time I watch this!!

We played Pumpkin Hunt over and over again this week and I definitely ran out of sneaky hiding places in our living room!

I think this would make a fun party game for a small group of kids if you used a few more pumpkins. You could even do something like mark them with numbers to correspond with prizes.

Happy Hunting and Happy Halloween!!

Here are more posts from this series of Halloween-themed play ideas:

Monster Bowling

Funny Felt Monsters

Perfect Pour Pumpkins

Spooky Sensory Bottles

Spiders in Shaving Cream

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Countdown: Batty Zip-lines

Halloween is tomorrow y'all!! Happy Halloween Eve ;)

And THE GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!! Woo hoo! So proud of my home team!

Ok back to Halloween. I may have gone a little batty myself when I dreamed this one up... Here's today's Halloween-themed play idea: Batty Zip-lines!

My original idea was to do a zip-line with ghosts. But then I felt like that might be hard to explain to Calvin and possibly a little scary for him... so I went with bats. A totally real nocturnal mammal that happens to be associated with Halloween. Very science-y. Completely legit. Bats it is!

Teacher friends, this would have been much easier if I'd had access to a die-cut machine. As it was, I had to draw a bat shape myself. It turned out totally decent. Kind of like the Batman's bat symbol... maybe that is because I slept through watched (half of) (ok, a third of) the old school Michael Keaton Batman movie the night before I made these.

I drew & cut out a bat using scrap paper, then took a piece of Halloween scrapbook paper and folded it in half "like a hot dog" - teacher friends, you guys reading this?? ;) - and traced the bat onto the scrapbook paper.

That gave me two cute little bats! (It's the same paper, it has a different pattern on each side.) For the lines I used regular party ribbon because I have this giant spool of it. And at first I was going to attach the end of the line to a wall or shelf or something, but then I got the idea to put knots or knobs on the end of the string so we could just hold the zip-lines without having to re-thread the bats. So, yes, those are the caps from squeeze-packs of toddler/baby food... the caps that the packaging specifically tells you to keep away from the kiddies because they are choking hazards... Um, we use them anyway for color sorting and stuff and they worked well for this. Just don't let your kids put them in their mouths OK?! You could also use big beads or buttons or tie big knots. And don't let your kids put the beads or buttons in their mouths either ;) 

I cut the straw into pieces and taped one on each bat body. Then I threaded a length of string through each one and tied a cap to each end of string. I made one longer one that Calvin and I can use together, and one short one that he can play with by himself.

Here's Calvin checking out the little one.

And here's the best I could do for a pic of us using the big one...

Henry thought the Batty Zip-line was pretty sweet too.

And I think James and Hartley liked it even more than the kids. (World Series post game is on in the background :))

Later, James was trying to think of ways to add weight to the bats to make them fly even faster. There was also talk of attaching a balloon to propel the bat... Lots of science-y stuff that you could tie into this one!

Here are more posts from this series of Halloween-themed play ideas:

Monster Bowling

Funny Felt Monsters

Perfect Pour Pumpkins

Spooky Sensory Bottles

Spiders in Shaving Cream