Friday, May 15, 2015

D is for DISNEYLAND!!

We're going to DISNEYLAND!!!



I might be more excited than Calvin. But that's only because I already know how awesome it's going to be. 

Calvin can't wait to go to "Mickey Mouse's House" and he's also really excited about going "Under the Sea" with the Little Mermaid. He hasn't seen the movie - way too scary! - but we sometimes watch just the song Under the Sea on YouTube because it's so fun and we have ocean animal musical instruments to play along :) Plus, Calvin loves ocean animals and all things water. 

Henry, obviously, has no idea what he's in for. I'm anticipating that some things will be hard for Henry, but as long as we can strap him in the Ergo for a little break from the bright sun and noisy crowd, I think he'll be OK. Now if we could just get an Ergo for James to give him a break from the crowd... ;) But one type of sensory play that Henry really, really loves is vestibular stimulation. That is a kind of sciency-way of saying he loves to spin and swing and bounce and roll. He loves activities that let his body do big movements. So I think the actual rides are going to be really fun for him. Spinning on the teacups, flying in circles with Dumbo... sounds like his cup of tea! James on the other hand... well, James might need some Dramamine. 

I found this amazing website called DLR (Disneyland Resort) Prep School with tons of really useful advice and information about travelling to Disneyland. The writer is a mom of 3 living in southern California and she has lots of experience with touring Disneyland with kids of all ages. I used her 6 steps for planning the trip and the most helpful things for me were her sample Disneyland and California Adventure trip itineraries. I used the ones for two days at Disney, one day at CA Adventure for toddlers and adapted them for our family. It was great to find a list of the toddler rides organized by area of the park, and helpful to have someone else's take on how to budget our time.

To get the boys excited, and to give them an idea of what to expect, we watched some YouTube videos of Disneyland rides and characters and I found this old Disneyland Fun Sing-Along movie which they love. I remember my little brother watching this on VHS about 20 years ago!

We also did the letter D for our Tot School Letter of the Week! We have continued to do some Tot School theme weeks since I last posted about it, though not every week. But we haven't done a Letter of the Week since we finished the letters of Calvin's name. This was partly because I started questioning whether I should have done lower case letters instead of capital letters. In the end I decided to go ahead and introduce the concept of lower case letters, since we see them in print all the time, but to focus on capital letters for Letter of the Week and for our letter recognition play.

So here are some ways we played around with the letter D

Words that start with D. Find the letter D.

Dot painting. This ended up being a bit of motor skill work for Calvin. He had to work hard to get the dot right on the D.

D for Dinosaur! Of course! These are foam stickers.

We did a little driving on "D Street" :) The delivery van delivered "donuts" (Cheerios) to Donald. Now that I look back at this, I feel like I should have written "Doughnut." *shrug*

And D is for Donuts!! We took a trip over to Krispy Kreme for some D-licious treats.



I did make a countdown paper chain like we did at Christmas, but we started it pretty late, so it's really short!



And in anticipation of our Disneyland vacay, for our toy rotation this week I included toys that I thought vaguely had to do with Disneyland.

Our Disney stuffies, of course!
We even built a swing set for Mickey and friends!

Our "Under the Sea" instruments

And the pirate ship! With Goofy at the helm.

Next stop... the Happiest Place on Earth!

Have you done Disneyland with toddlers? Any tips/advice for us? I'm all ears!



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day Picnic Pics

I hope all the awesome mamas out there had a very happy Mother's Day, especially my own awesome mama, and grandmamas, and mama-in-law! :)


I sure did. James made waffles with a homemade berry syrup for breakfast and my Lola Coring came down to join us.



After breakfast, Henry took his morning nap, and Lola, Calvin and I Skyped with my mom while James cleaned up and packed our picnic lunch. 

Picnics are, like, my favorite thing to do with the babies. If the weather's right, and we've got a nice spot with some space to play, a few toys and some simple, yummy food... it's the best. But the weather is key! And this wasn't one of the warmer weekends in the Bay Area where we live. So we chased the warm weather inland to Livermoore and drove all the way to Del Valle park for a sunny picnic by the lake. We had been there a couple of times in 2013, including one camping trip. It was a popular spot, but not too crowded and the weather was just what we were hoping for.


PB&J's for the kids, sourdough with tomatoes, salami, and mozzarella for the grown-ups, and sweet strawberries and watermelon for everybody. And a little milk on the side for Henry.
 


Our picnic spot was very near the shore of the lake.





Days like this are gorgeous and wonderful, but I find that the evenings that follow are always hard! This time it was the traffic on the drive home that got us. Crying, hangry babies stuck in the car :( But once we finally got home and our takeout sushi and tempura was on the table, we were able to all sit down together and actually have a really nice family dinner, despite the fact that it was already past the kids' bedtime (yikes!!). 

How did you spend Mother's Day this year? Anybody else go on a picnic? It's the thing to do! ;)





Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring Camping Trip

For the first time in a long time we took the kids on a camping trip! Our last camping trip attempt was almost a year ago when we tried to go camping over Mother's Day weekend and it was just too windy to be any fun. This time, we went with our friends Ben and Rachel and their two boys, Sagan and Izzy. Izzy is just 10 months old, and was their first camping trip as a family of four!

We went to a park that we'd never visited before, China Camp State Park, so named because it was a Chinese fishing village in the 1880's and now part of it is a historical site. It's on San Pablo Bay and it has a couple of small beaches where we picnicked and the kids had fun playing in the sand and rocks and water. 

Our campsite was beautiful. It was nestled at the end of a row of sites, with a little trail behind us winding back into the trees. Calvin and Henry had a wonderful time. They're becoming very outdoorsy just like their dad :) Calvin loves walking the trails, picking up rocks and leaves, and especially throwing rocks, which is sometimes problematic, but not altogether a bad thing since he mostly wants to throw rocks into water. The beach at the China Camp historic site is a rocky kind of pebble beach which was perfect for him. He was happy to stand there and toss rock after rock after rock into the bay. Henry, as always, needs sensory breaks every so often which usually means strapping him into the Ergo with the hood up so he can kind of hide and relax, but at other times he has really sunny, happy moments of gazing at the trees, or exploring the ground around him, or just playing with his toys or playing with us. Of course it would be easier if those stretches of play and enjoyment lasted a little longer, but for now I'm thankful that we have an easy way to help him calm down when he needs a break (Thank you Ergo!!), and honestly, I'm thankful that he has those sunny, happy moments at all!! Seeing how much the kids loved camping makes me want to go more often! Anything healthy that makes them this happy is worth the work!

Calvin takes off down the trail, following Ben and Sagan ahead of him.

Get to work kid. We need some firewood. ;)

That's our tent behind James and Henry.

Down by the bay. Lots of rocks to throw into the water!



James & Calvin, Rachel, Izzy & Sagan

Beach bums.

Happy Henry!

Such a big boy!! And a cutie!!

Cute even (or especially!) with his hat hair!

Back at our campsite, getting ready for dinner.

James took the kids on a walk while dinner was being prepared.


Campfire time

Henry liked the campfire just a little bit. 
Sunday morning oatmeal and coffee

They called this their "boat." They hung out here for a bit while the grown-ups packed up camp.

After packing up our campsite on Sunday, Ben & Rachel and their kids headed home, but we hung around for one more picnic at a different little beach in the park.


That awkward moment when you realize that you and your spouse are wearing the exact same outfit...

Beach bums.

Splash!

We got home dirty, sandy, and exhausted! Everyone needed dinner and a bath. There was gear to be put away and piles and piles of laundry. The babies were cranky and fussy from being so tired. In those moments it's hard to feel like it's worth it to get out of the house at all! But no. Of course it's worth it! Being out in the woods, out at the beach, out in the sun, enjoying each other's company, seeing the kids so happy. It's the best. 


Does your family do camping trips? 

What kind of weekend trips or vacations do your kids enjoy?


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Calvin's Birthday Breakfast and a Trip to Fairyland

 The Bean turned 3!!

We had done a little birthday celebration with our cousins on Easter Sunday, but of course we wanted to make Calvin's actual birthday special too!

Birthday Breakfast is becoming a big tradition for our fam. I always want to make it special, but this time I think I took it pretty far with party decor since we didn't throw Calvin a party with his friends this year. Calvin was still on his mushy mush diet following his palate repair surgery, so we couldn't do any of our usual birthday breakfast goodies. Instead, I made a big batch of smoothies for Calvin, Henry, James, myself, and our cousin Hartley (who took the pics for us). I even taped three birthday candles to the ends of three drinking straws so that Calvin could blow them out :)


Birthday Breakfast! Smoothies all around!

Calvin checks out his birthday gifts. He was especially excited about the bubble machine!

And then he found his new tricycle!!

Calvin loves his new ride! His feet do reach the pedals, I promise! I realize it doesn't look like it in that pic, ha ha :) The bar attachment allows a grown-up to push him and help him steer while he gets the hang of it and it can be removed when we don't need it anymore. He has a helmet too, which is a hand-me-down from his friend Sagan.



Speaking of Sagan, he and his baby brother Izzy and their mama joined Calvin and Henry and me at Children's Fairyland in Oakland to spend Calvin's birthday among the storybook characters and magical creatures there.

Entering Fairyland, welcomed by a yellow dragon and an elf blowing bubbles from his mushroom perch.

Children's Fairyland is an amusement park for littles with rides and playgrounds and displays that help tell folk tales and fairy tales like The Three Little Pigs, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Pinnochio, and many others.

Sagan and Henry as two of the three little pigs... Calvin didn't want to go into the houses! You can see the house of bricks in the background. Maybe Calvin is the wolf?

These little blue boxes accompany each different story area. You can get a special key to use on these boxes to hear the story and a song. Calvin is listening to Snow White sing "I'm Wishing" from the Disney movie.



Riding the Gryphon on the Alice in Wonderland carousel. Henry is asleep in the Ergo. I feel like this pic makes it look like my arm is in a sling, but it's Henry's head under the Ergo hood.

Crawling through the tunnel into Mr. MacGregor's garden in the Beatrix Potter neighborhood.

A ride on the Jolly Trolley! 

Rachel, Izzy, and Sagan in the car next to us!

I know Calvin was exhausted by the end of our day at Fairyland, but he didn't want to leave! He just wanted to hang out with this elf on the mushroom and chase the bubbles around! He still says the bubbles were his favorite part.



He may be tiny, but he is looking more and more like a big boy every day. He is as curious and independent as ever. He has such a sweet and open heart. Always thoughtful of his baby brother and friendly to others. Being a toddler is not easy! Sharing is hard, having grown-ups set limits is hard, learning new skills is hard. Going through surgery and recovery is most definitely hard! But Calvin's sunny charm shines through all of it, and God's love shines through him.



Happy 3rd birthday to our Bean, and many many more!