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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Henry and Calvin-tines Day

Last week for Tot School we did all Valentine's Day themed play. In fact, we were having so much fun with all our pink and red and hearts and sparkles that we didn't even do a letter of the week! The letter N will just have to wait.

We started out the week by painting some Valentine cards for the boys' grandparents & great-grandparents. Calvin, Henry & I also painted cards for James. 

I picked up these Valentine gel window clings from Target and Calvin LOVED them. We did some letter matching with them too. Only problem was that he often wanted to carry them around the room and they kept getting all linty from his clothes and the couch! 

I included the gel clings in a Valentine sensory bin along with a few other Target dollar section items: the mini "koosh" balls, some heart-shaped "slinkys," the necklaces, and some heart buttons. I also added heart confetti and conversation heart stickers which I had leftover from last year and some red, pink, and white pom poms. The boys both enjoyed playing with all these goodies :)

After a while, Calvin took all the pom poms and koosh balls out and made "rain" with the confetti and stickers and buttons. (The stickers have paper backings so they are not sticky.)

Then we pulled out our Valentine mail box (also from last year) and Calvin played with posting the little items through the slot. 

I took some of the heart confetti and buttons along with some pink glitter and made two Valentine sensory bottles. At first I had made the sensory bottles in baby food jars, but they leaked so I switched to these little plastic jars that used to hold sprinkles for baking. 

And speaking of baking, on Friday Calvin helped me bake a very Valentine "funfetti" cake! 

The night before Valentine's Day, Hartley babysat for us and James and I went out for a Valentine's date night :) I love date night! 

For breakfast on Valentine's Day, James treated us all to heart pancakes. So cute! He thought about bringing them to me in bed, but decided that the babies are not ready for Pancakes in Bed just yet :P

He made them by pouring the pancake batter into a plastic bag and piping it like icing onto the pan. 

Our original plan for Valentine's day was centered around getting Henry's hair cut. We were going to make a day of it and ride the train down to San Bruno, where there's a nice kids' salon, take Henry for his hair cut, have lunch there in the downtown area, and maybe treat ourselves to ice cream or something. 

But the weather that weekend was so warm and sunny we couldn't resist the urge to do something outdoors instead. Still, Henry. Needed. A. Haircut. His long curls were always in his face. So I decided I could just do it myself really quick and then we could head out for a picnic instead of a train ride. 

In true second child fashion, Henry's first haircut was much less ceremonious (and also much less stressful)  than Calvin's first haircut. I was still nervous. And he wouldn't keep his head still! But once I got started it was actually easy. Snip snip here, snip ship there... and Voila!

Not too bad. We actually thought it would still curl, even though it was shorter, so we were surprised to see it stay straight even after being washed. Oh well. Bye bye baby curls. Henry is a big boy and deserves a big boy hair cut! 

With Henry's haircut done, we packed up and headed to Park Chalet for a sort of cheating picnic. I say cheating because it's a restaurant, so we get to have our picnic served to us, but that's what makes it so nice! It was pretty crowded, as it always is on such nice warm days, but we got a spot on the lawn and spread out our blanket. Calvin had fun playing with other kids there and we all got to relax and enjoy the gorgeous day. 

We headed home for naptime and dinner. Last year I wanted to do a fancy family dinner at home, complete with special Valentine's attire (pink bow ties!). This year we kept it low key: homemade pizza in our pajamas :)

I love Valentine's Day, as I'm sure you can tell, and I think Calvin really loved it too! Here's a cute video of him talking about the garland of hearts that we had strung up in our kitchen, and showing off the Valentine sensory jars. 

Hope you had a happy Valentine's Day! XOXO <3

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tot School: Fasteners & Letter I

Last week, despite being very busy and feeling very frazzled, I managed to do some Tot School stuff with the boys. It was a good thing that our theme for the week was fasteners because I was able to rely on some of our Melissa and Doug toys and I didn't have to make anything myself.

Houses with Latches Puzzle

Undo the latch... open the door... see some animal friends inside! Say "Bye bye"... close the door and latch it again :)

Dress the Bear Puzzle

I was impressed at how well Calvin did with this. He can do the snap, the zipper, the buckle on the wrist, and he can thread the lace, but not tie it. He can do the big button with some help. 

Lacing Cards

These wooden lacing cards are also by Melissa and Doug toys. I let him work on threading the lace through any hole without worrying about any kind of pattern or order. Great fine motor work for him, and also good for working on concentration and patience :) 

Pack for a Hike

We packed for a pretend hike and an indoor picnic on a rainy day. This CamelBak backpack was great for this activity because it has so many different fasteners: zippers, snaps, buckles, and velcro! As we packed our items into the many pockets, Calvin used the fasteners to close the pockets up. Then we pretended to hike along a beach, though we were actually walking in circles around our apartment :) When our "hike" was over, we stopped and undid all those zippers, snaps, buckles, and velcro to unpack our things and we enjoyed our indoor snack picnic.

Our letter of the week was icy letter I! Here's how we Investigated I...

Words with I

Round-up of all the Items I could find with names that start with I. 

Ice Play Sensory Bin

Since I was our letter of the week, I took it as an opportunity to let Calvin and Henry play with some ice. I put a bit of water in the bin and added ice cubes, plastic ice cubes, frozen teething rings, James' whiskey stones and a couple of pitchers for pouring. Calvin loved it! For Henry, I gave him an ice pop made of frozen coconut water to gnaw on :)

Ink Stamp I

I have a set of small alphabet stamps, so I pulled out a big ink pad and let Calvin stamp away with the letter I. The small stamp was a bit difficult for him to manage, but that made it a good motor-skill exercise too.

Ice Painting

I added food coloring to water in an ice tray to make some gorgeous jewel-toned ice cubes for painting! I was worried that they'd stain Calvin's clothes so I let him do the ice painting in his birthday suit :) The ice-painted letter I turned out very pretty!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Tot School: Textures & Letter V

Last week I seriously considered skipping Tot School. Actually, I seriously considered skipping it this week too. We've just been so busy. I'm sure that is shocking :P  On top of our very full therapy schedule, Henry had his 18 month check up and I've had a couple of dentist appointments myself. Good news from Henry's well baby check - he's on the growth chart! Finally made it above that 1st percentile and into the 3rd percentile for weight!

I did pull it together and do some Tot School play with the boys that went along with the theme and letter that I had planned for last week. (I am pulling it together this week too, but we haven't had time to do much so far :/)

Our theme last week was textures. I interpreted this as any type of texture... fabric, food, etc. Here's how we played with textures:

Touch and Feel Books

I scoured our shelves for baby board books that featured some kind of texture to touch on each page. I even pulled out some holiday touch and feel books because we didn't have that many and I wanted to have a nice variety for the week.

Dress Up

I have our Halloween costumes from the past couple of years in a box for dress up, so I brought it out this week and added Calvin's fire fighter raincoat and galoshes. We had been to the fire station that day and Calvin had been given a brand new fire fighter helmet. While we played dress up, we talked about the furry bear scarf, the silky tiger costume, the slippery raincoat, and the hard fire fighter helmet.

Mini Sensory Bins


I set up bowls with 4 different sensory fillers, each with a very different texture: sticky yogurt, rough sea salt, soft pom poms, and smooth lentils. Then I put a couple of dinosaurs in each one so that Calvin would have something to move through the filler. Eventually, of course, the yogurt infiltrated the other bowls and I am still finding pieces of rock salt in the nooks and crannies of my kitchen ;) Hazards of sensory bins.

Sensory Laundry

Giant sensory bin! I put both boys into the laundry basket with some clothing items that had different kinds of textures. A soft scarf, a leathery jacket, a slippery raincoat, a silky robe, etc. Henry liked it more than Calvin. We played a lot of peek-a-boo with the scarves :)

Our letter of the week was V. I almost went out of order and saved V for Valentine's week, but then I decided to just stick with my plan and do a little early Valentine-making for the letter V.

Words with V

Our usual roundup of things around the house that start with our letter of the week. V was a hard one! But I found a few things. Calvin is holding a bottle of his little Vitamin D supplement. He really liked smelling the vanilla beans. I almost pulled out the vanilla ice cream from the freezer, but I decided to save it for the letter I.

Play Dough Spelling

It looks like cheese... but it's play dough!

I think it's good to go back to working with his whole name once in a while to remind him that these letters we're talking about are all parts of his name. So we used letter cookie cutters with orange play dough to spell out Calvin and name each letter. 

Van Go? Painting

Vroom! Vroom! Painting with vans! I've been really into the idea of alternative paint "brushes" lately. I think it started with the pom pom painting we did last week. Then we used Calvin's plastic dinosaurs to paint dinosaur tracks. So this week, the vans seemed like the perfect thing. Plus I modeled writing the letter V in the fingerpaint. Henry used yogurt, as usual, for painting because he can't help but put it in his mouth :) It's van-illa yogurt!

Valentine V

At the end of each week we decorate our letter. Soon we'll have Calvin's whole name! For V, I pulled out some Valentine stickers left over from last year. At first, Calvin was more interested in putting the stickers onto himself... but eventually we decorated the V :)