Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rachel Lost Her First Tooth!

Rachel has had a wiggly bottom tooth for a couple of weeks now.  Of course, she has been playing with it and trying to make it fall out so the Tooth Fairy will come visit her.  

Yesterday she went into the bathroom and a few minutes later she excitedly announced that her tooth had come out!  I tried to get a picture of the moment but by then she was upset because she saw a little bit of blood in her mouth.

Lost her first tooth

Her mouth really didn't bleed much at all but it was startling for her (even though we had warned her that there might be some blood).  She tried to smile to let me see the empty space but then she started whining again.  You can probably see from the picture below that her permanent tooth has already grown in behind where the baby tooth was.  Yes, we see braces in her future :(

Sad girl

Here is Rachel's first baby tooth to come out!  I put it in a little baggie for her and she quickly ran upstairs to put it under her pillow.  She was so excited about the Tooth Fairy!

First Baby Tooth

And the Tooth Fairy didn't let her down.  She woke up this morning to find a dollar bill under her pillow and Fairy Dust sprinkled all over her floor.  

Tooth Fairy came

Rachel has a favorite dress that she has been saving to wear on her birthday.  But this morning she put it on along with her purple tiara.  She said she was wearing it because it is a special day because she lost her tooth and the Tooth Fairy came.  So cute!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Exploring the Park with all 5 Senses

After the rain yesterday the kids couldn't wait to get back outside.  The rain had cooled things off so while Daddy was at the theater working on the set for the upcoming play, The Hobbit, the kids and I took a ride to the park down the street.  

It turned out to be an amazing little outing.  We talked about little things we discovered and by the end of the trip we realized that we had experienced the world around us with all five of our senses!

Rachel wanted to ride her bike through some puddled water at the end of a driveway.  As she went through it, her training wheels were on a higher ground than her back tire so when she peddled the back tire just spun and spun through the water.  It looked cool as it splashed water up in the air but Rachel particularly loved the "zzzzz" sound it made so she giggled and did it again and again and again.


My sweet little girl loves her girly bike!  We really need to work with her on getting rid of those training wheels but she had no interest in that right now.


Oh, I love this little playground.  So many great memories of my kids playing here for days on end, especially as itty bitty toddlers.  We have always sat here and listened to the birds in the trees (as well as a few planes that flew overhead).



The kids don't play on the playground as much anymore.  They like to explore so we headed back to the woods.  Nicholas enjoyed hearing the swish of the water as he ran through it.  Then he decided he wanted to put his bike down in the creek and see if he could ride through it.  Mommy had to nix that idea.


So they climbed around in the creek on the rocks - their favorite thing to do here!


With the rain earlier in the day, the creek was actually flowing rather quickly in some spots.  It was fun to watch and hear the running water.


But the rains also brought out the mosquitoes - OUCH! So we quickly made our way back out of the woods.


The kids went to the playground.  They discovered the mulch had made a weird pattern in the corner of the playground.


The rain water wasn't draining in this spot so the mulch was floating a little bit on the surface.  It was really neat to look at.  But of course, they had to step in it to really complete their scientific studies of this newly discovered wonder.  Oh, the feeling of wet feet never gets old for my kids!


Rachel enjoyed feeling the water and mulch as she squished her hands through it.  The mulch also seemed to have a stronger smell when it was wet.


It was almost up to her ankles!


One thing that I've always disliked about this park is that the open areas are lined with dense poison ivy.  If a ball gets away from us and rolls into the bushes, we just leave it because it isn't worth traipsing through the poison ivy to retrieve it.  Fortunately, this has also helped my kids to learn what poison ivy looks like it so now they can both identify it easily on their own.


We found a few unnatural objects that had been left behind by previous visitors such as a golf ball and a part of a pen.


We looked at some beautiful blooms on a crepe myrtle tree and noticed rain drops dangling from the petals.  Everything looked so clean and shiny after the rain.  Even the air seemed to smell better.


We started heading out of the park and I noticed the big juniper tree was covered with rain drops that were just about to drop.  It was so beautiful the way all of the drops sparkled in the light.  I showed Rachel and then decided to get playful and tap the branch to make a droplet fall on her.  She loved it and asked me to do it again so she could try to catch a rain drop in her mouth.  She said it tasted great!


We must have looked crazy as we all went around the juniper tree shaking branches and trying to catch rain drops in our mouths!  Rachel even tried it with a few other trees although the juniper was the best one to do this with.


Of course, we saw a few bunnies scampering around.  Our neighborhood is really infested with bunnies so it is no unusual sight for us anymore.


Nicholas discovered a cicada in the juniper tree.  It was an amazing find since he camoflauges well with his surroundings.


Nicholas loves cicadas and likes to learn about them at the Cicada Mania website.  Here is a video of the sound they make (if you are reading this in email then click through to the actual blog to see/hear the video):


Rachel found this little tiny cricket.  She tried to catch it but it got away.  Have no fear - Nicholas the bug hunter is here!  He quickly caught it so we could get a good look at it.


He gave it to Rachel and she talked so sweetly to it before it hopped off of her finger.


They tried to catch him again but he got away.


Rachel decided to take off her shoes, surely because they were soaking wet.  I love those cute summer feet - wet, a little dirty, and totally bare.  That's the best way to enjoy summer.


Of course, splashing through puddles is best done with bare feet.


Time to head home for showers!  Rachel hops on her bike but looks back to wait for big brother.  They really look out for each other.


Big brother made his way up to us, wet from play and from sweat.


On our way home, we found some seed pods from a sweet gum tree.  The dry brown ones are very common but we actually found this fresh green one on the sidewalk.  How unusual to see and feel.  It wasn't as pokey as the dry ones.


My little guy asked if they could have popsicles when they got home.  I stalled on my answer and just took his picture instead.  


Of course they had popsicles when we got home...and showers!  

What a wonderful trip to the park and I love that we used all 5 of our senses!

Play in the Rain and Stomp in the Mud

Rachel started the day playing with rubber stamps.  She got out the pirate set as well as some holiday stamps and bug stamps.  She loves to cut things out so of course that was the next thing she had to do.  


Once her stamps were cut out, she and Nicholas decided to use them to set up pretend stores.  Some of the cut-outs became money and others became items to trade for.  Nicholas even created some of his own drawings like a treasure chests and blocks of gold and platinum.


He also made a squirrel and mango which Rachel promptly "bought" from him and put in her doll stroller.  Now the squirrel has a healthy snack to eat when he wakes us from his nap.


We had our plan for the day a little mixed up.  Instead of playing outside in the morning when it was sunny, we were inside.  Then when God blessed us with a glorious rainy afternoon, the kids raced outside to play.  Yep, in the rain.  

I love this picture of Nicholas as he puts his finger to his chin to think up a plan for their next adventure.  I did tell him that he had to put the metal umbrella down during the rain storm though because it could attract lightning (although our tall trees would probably be more of an attractant).


Suddenly the rain started getting heavier.  Instead of running back inside, Rachel just kept walking away from the house.  She found the really muddy spot in our yard and we had some fun stomping in the mud!


The rain didn't seem to bother them at all.  They didn't even seem to mind once the thunder and lightning started.  I had to call them back in or they would have probably stayed out there the whole time.


Rachel has an adorable little raincoat and hat that our neighbor gave her.  It is really too small for her now but she insists on wearing it because she loves it so much.  


I let the kids stay on the deck under the roof overhang so they could still just watch the rain but stay out of the mud.  As they were watching, the rain got heavier and the wind suddenly started blowing the rain around like crazy.  I love the surprised look on Rachel's face when she saw it "raining sideways" for the first time.


Unstructured play time outside is so important for kids.  They need time to themselves to explore and let their imaginations run wild.  But in the rain?  Parents don't usually want to let them play outside in the rain because, "Oh no!  They will get wet!"  But hey, as long it isn't a thunderstorm, let them play!  It's just water!  It will dry.  

As parents, we need to realize that the backyard totally transforms when it rains.  The sensory experience of raindrops falling on you is like taking a shower outside every where you walk.  Toys can now have new uses as they scoop up water or make waves in puddles.  Oh and the puddles!  Splashing in puddles and stomping in mud are special treats for kids.  Sure they get a little messy but mud washes away with a little soap and water.  It is a small price for such a classic childhood experience.

And parents, when was the last time you splashed in a puddle or stomped in the mud?  I think God blesses us with children to help us slow down from the busy days of our adult lives and focus on the little joys He provides us each day in the world around us.  Sadly, we are usually "too busy" to notice them.  Next time it rains, let your kids play splash around and get wet...and take off your shoes and jump in a puddle with them.  Your kids will laugh and think you are the coolest parent in the world.  And you will find a new joy to your day as well.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Slip N Slide Fun

It was a beautiful day today so we spent most of it in the backyard.  I was restaining our back deck while the kids played on the Slip N Slide.  Nicholas has his technique down pat.


Rachel doesn't want to make a running leap onto her tummy so she tried several different ways to slide.


They played on the Slip N Slide for an hour or two then they pulled out the hose and just sprayed it in the air, they pushed each other around in the wheelbarrow and then decided to just fill it up with water to make their own personal pool.  I gave them some Flavor Ice popsicles and they set up their umbrella and cooled off in their "wheelbarrow chair".


I love the unstructured days of summer when kids can just play and create fun new ways to use regular things around the house.  No "I'm bored" comments here!  

....And no video games or TV were used in the making of this awesome day!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

101 Kids Activities That Are The Bestest, Funnest Ever! {Book Review and Giveaway}

I was sent an amazing book recently and I'm so excited to share it with you here.  It's called 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: The Entertainment Solution for Parents, Relatives & Babysitters!  It was written by my friends, the ultimate Super Moms, Holly Homer and Rachel Miller at Kids Activities Blog.  What a great resource for chasing away the summer boredoms!  


101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!

The grammar in the title makes my OCD tendencies go crazy but other than that I really like this book.  These kinds of fun activities are a great way to slow down, spend some time with your kids, and just savor the days with your little ones. There are tons of great activities for both indoors and outdoors, big and little, quiet and loud.  I especially love that each of the activities include modifications to make it easier for younger children or more challenging for older children.  There are lots of great colorful pictures to help you get a good sense of how the project will work.  My kids have already flipped through it and easily identified the next 20 projects they want to do.  Want to check it out for yourself?  Keep reading and be sure to enter the giveaway later in this post!

Here is one of the activities from the book that we've already tried (From 101 Kids Activities by Holly Homer and Rachel Miller, printed with permission of Page Street Publishing June 2014):

Fizzing Sidewalk Paint

This activity trumps ordinary sidewalk chalk with a little science magic by creating a chalk-based paint and then spritzing on a little fizz.  It all starts with pH.  When solutions that are pH base mix with an acid, action happens!

Materials
~ large mixing bowl
~ 1 small (1 lb) box of baking soda
~ 1/2 cup cornstarch
~ warm water
~ several containers to hold the paint
~ food coloring
~ paintbrushes
~ spray bottle filled with vinegar (one for each child)
~ buckets or pitchers for cleanup

In a large mixing bowl, mix the baking soda and the cornstarch together.  Add the warm (almost hot) water, stirring until it is the consistency of pancake batter.  Split the recipe into several containers, adding the food coloring of your choice to each.

Use the homemade paint to create a scene or flick it with a paintbrush into a modern masterpiece.  It is best to work fast because the paint dries quickly (but can always be diluted with the addition of more warm water).

Once the painting is in place, it is time for something a little extra.  Spray the artwork with the vinegar-filled bottle and watch what happens.  Your artwork will sizzle and pop!

About Cleanup
A bucketful of water splashed across the art can make it disappear.  Because that is fun too, you might not want to wait for rain!

Modifications for Younger Kids
If a paintbrush is hard to negotiate in the paint, give your children a spoon and let them drip or drop spoonfuls of paint onto the pavement.  For the little ones, be sure to fully supervise when they spray vinegar.  It can sting little eyes.

Modifications for Older Kids
This activity is an easy way to work in a lesson on reactions between acid and base chemicals.  Talk about why this works.  Maybe you can have your budding scientists adapt the recipe to see whether they can get bigger bubbles and more fizz in their next batch of paint.

So here we go:

Mixing the ingredients was super easy.   I talked with my kindergartener about math and measuring.  She loved mixing up the two powders with her bare hands.  What a silky texture it was!  Of course, anytime she gets to use food coloring is a highlight of her day.  But I have to watch closely or she will squirt the whole bottle in the bowl in less than a second!


We ended up with this enticingly colorful tray to bring outside.  It made me giddy just looking at it!


The kids were quick to start painting the driveway.  They experimented with different colors and different brushes.


After pushing their patience limit, the paint was FINALLY dry.  They just couldn't wait to use the squirt bottle and see what the vinegar would do! 

One squirt and the colorful paint got all fizzy.  Cool!


Squirting the whole stripe made it all bubble and sizzle.  There was lots of "ooohs and ahhhs" over this.


They tried a multi-color splatter paint with the same amazing effect.  Their art work was alive!


Of course how could they let the driveway have all the fun?  They painted their bare feet and then giggled as the vinegar made the fizzies tickle their feet!  What a wonderful sensory experience!  (No, the vinegar did not burn and the food coloring did not stain their skin.)


Finally, they decided to mix all the remaining paint together to make a colorful rainbow and then they squirted the whole container with vinegar.  Lots of fizzy excitement :)


What a fun activity!  This is just one of the cool projects your kids will love in the 101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: The Entertainment Solution for Parents, Relatives & Babysitters!

I know you can't wait to get your hands on this book so here is your chance to WIN a free copy!  (if you are reading this in an email or RSS feed, you will need to click over to the actual post to enter the giveaway!)

A Rafflecopter giveaway 

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review.  I was given a copy of this book for review purposes but my comments about it are entirely my own.  This post does include affiliate links so if you click over to Amazon through this post and buy the book then I will make a few cents which just helps me buy supplies for the next cool kids activity that we do.  Thank you!