Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pseudo Snow Day

Well, the media successfully hyped up this so called storm all day yesterday and here are the results in pictures taken over a 2 hour period.  All the kids were out and about early this morning taking advantage of their snow day before it melted.

9 am
Building  a snowman during Baby O's nap

9:20 am
Might as well build one for your baby brother.

9:30 am
Uh Oh!  I think too many accessories weighed him down.

10 am
Better get Baby O up and get some use out of the snowsuit that will only be worn once.

10:02 am
I thought you said there were two snowmen.

10:10 am
Maybe there will be more snow on the other side of the neighborhood.

10:20 am
If there's not enough snow or hills for sledding, slick wood chips and slides more than fill the bill.  Boy and Baby O took turns with all the kids home from school pulling and riding.

10:45 am
Throw some wet snow onto the slide and watch it become a catapult.  The kids had a blast and (in retrospect) I think I may not have been the best adult influence by helping them apply snow to the slide. We all tried it out....even Baby O and I gave it a go as a team.  Not my best judgement, but we survived and there was lots of cheering. 

By the time we arrived home for lunch and hot cocoa, the snow was just a fun memory.  The news said another storm will hit tonight-maybe this one will stick around for more than a few hours.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Science Friday

What better way to explore capillary action and transpiration than with celery and white carnations?  After planting his spice garden, I asked Boy O how he thought his plants 'drank' the water he was giving them.  He thought it was through their leaves, so this was a fun and simple way of showing how plants absorb H2O.  All you need is a glass, water, food coloring, celery and/or white carnations.  Even your toddler can participate, although how much Baby O took away from this exercise other than waving a flower around and being the most adorable baby ever (of course) is beyond me. 


The next morning:

I remember doing this with celery and it working quite well, but carnations seemed to have a more colorful result for us and can make a pretty bouquet around Valentine's day.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Sleep and sanity seem to have made their way back into our household for the past week or so.  Things are busy, things are good and with so much going on, I figured a newsy update on the boys was overdue.

Baby O has my number and mine only.  If he happens to pull a 2 am wake up call in the middle of the night, it's like a 'choose your own adventure book' depending on who answers the call.  If Mommy O opens the door, turn to pages 10, 67, 83, and 110 where you are sure to experience crying, screaming, clinging and pulling of the heart strings.  If Daddy O opens the door, turn to the last page that says The End.

The evolution of the superhero for Boy O: First it was just dressing up for Halloween.  Then it was the simple addition of a cape (even a dish towel would do).  Now he gets up early, puts on his spiderman costume and cape beneath his regular clothes and goes about his day.  His reasoning is that he needs his uniform in case someone needs saving.  What was I thinking when I brought home the original Superman movie for movie night?

I even have to specify which shirts he is allowed to wear over his costume.  The foam muscles tend to stretch out a regular shirt.  He doesn't seem to understand why the costume cannot be worn out in public if it is underneath his clothing. 

Swimming has been a fabulous new addition to our schedule.  Boy O is a natural in the water.  Here is a picture of him before his first lesson.  Pure excitment in his swimsuit and towel. Hopefully Baby O and I can join in the fun next month when new lessons begin.

 Baby O is really starting to communicate. I used to think I had the bedtime song down. I sang the whole prologue of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat before laying him in his crib. Now, if I even start that song, he says, BABY. I quickly learned that this meant, Hey Lady-I want you to sing Rock-a-by-baby. Don't quit your day job. Have I mentioned that I'm not much of a singer and love musicals?

The glass doors in our house will never be the same, and neither will Valentine's day. We made cards for Daddy O,  a heart shaped chocolate cake and after dinner had a scavenger hunt for Boy O to find his special Valentine (clues to find goodies are a great incentive for first time readers!).  I'm surprised they could even fall asleep with all the frosting in their system. 

Lots of Love, Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Off Balance

I used to be somewhat of an expert at balance.

Back in the day and under the instruction of a very tyrannical particular gymnastics coach, my teammates and I would mount the balance beam with the intent of executing an entire routine to his satisfaction.  Not only would he furiously take notes in his head, but he also subscribed to the theory that distraction in any form during practice would improve one's performance during competition.  Anything from turning on a song that he knew you hated really loud, to (even worse) making the entire gym turn to watch you in dead silence, or his favorite-throwing bean bags your way as you desperately tried to stay on a four inch wide apparatus.  His purpose was to create a competitor who was unflappable in any situation and as much as I may have disliked it at the time (I had a hard time with the bean bag thing), I think he enjoyed a great amount of success with his technique.

Reflecting on the activities of the past week, I find it interesting that as adept as I used to be, literally and figuratively, balance still takes practice.

Even though I retired eons ago, beginning on Monday and ending on Friday, I felt like my coach was lurking in the shadows somewhere, chucking bean bags at me.  Some were small, some were large, but by the end of the week, my wobbles had turned into crashes and my routine was shot.  Coach would have been disappointed, each incident just left me more and more flustered.  For the most part, these episodes were not that earth shattering.  Aside from the trip to the ER (everyone is fine, but this beanbag was large and seemed to hit me smack dab in the face), they were in fact as harmless as a bean bag.  The addition of swim lessons to our schedule, a slight change in nap time,  Daddy O coming home later from work a couple of nights... but by the time Friday afternoon came around and Daddy O arrived home, I threw in the towel, handed over the kiddos, locked the bedroom door and proceeded to take a long hot bath and watch re-runs of a completely awful reality show.  Ahhhhhhh.....peace at last.

It certainly wasn't my best week since becoming a mom, but I learned several things.  Among them: 1)  Never underestimate the power of an additional activity, and more importantly, 2) Never mess with nap time.  Case in point-attending Boy O's story hour at the library after swimming lessons (sans nap for Baby O), I followed Baby O around the library, realizing that he bore a striking resemblance to Beevis during a great cornholio episode after consuming large amounts of sugar/caffeine. 

One week later, same schedule, and a different attitude altogether.  I'm prepared, focused, and of course not messing with nap time.  So, go ahead coach-throw all the bean bags you want.  I'm ready. 

P.S.  To my coach whom I have a deep respect for and remember quite fondly despite what folks might take away from this brief description: Who woulda thunk that some 17 years later, hurling small objects at me might parlay a much deeper significance to your pupil than a balance beam routine?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Science Friday

Since arriving from Ethiopia in May I have been tutoring Boy O from home.  His birth date missed the cutoff for kindergarten and I stopped investigating preschools when I saw a teacher texting as I was looking through the visitor window (yes, it was the only one I visited, but was enough to give me serious pause). 

So he's stuck.  With me.

The first few months were all about language acquisition and so called 'lessons' involved lots and lots of games.  Candy land was a great game for learning colors, hide-and-seek was great for practicing counting, a deck of cards was used for memory, war, crazy eights etc... I call it the Mommy O curriculum.  With one on one attention Boy O has blossomed.

Our pace continues to progress and although we still play games, Boy O has moved on to reading simple books and completing basic math skills on par with kindergarten and now a first grade curriculum. At 9 a.m, when Baby O goes down for his morning nap, we run down the stairs, I read a book of his choosing and then get down to business.  My focus has mainly concentrated on reading, writing and arithmetic and now that Boy O has a good grasp, I've added some new material: Science.  Oh happy day-this is exciting for me, because it is not much different than a game-very hands on, lots of new vocabulary and best of all teaching one of Family O's favorite subjects. 

In accordance with the season, planting a mini indoor spice garden was a great introduction to botany.  Of course Boy O wasn't all that excited about basil, sage, and chives etc...-so I did let him pick out beets and carrots (his favorite veggies) with the promise of planting them outside as soon as weather permitted.   Planting the various spices allowed us to get our hands dirty, introduce several new terms (seed, soil, germination) and establish the good habit of recording data-in our case, the presence or absence of plants.

Here are a few pictures over the last couple of weeks documenting our first science project.

Yes, Boy O is still into capes.  Can you see it peeking beneath his coat?

Can you hear what I'm saying?  Careful, slowly, careful, slowly.....

Creating the small depression for the seeds-as it turns out, this was the hardest part-he really enjoyed making something that was much more akin to what I would describe as long tunnel.

One week later and voila! spices aplenty.  In this picture, he is busy counting the oregano.

Baby O can't help himself-he wants to do everything his big brother is doing. I think he's trying to help find the sage sprouts.

Just a picture with a tad more perspective and the spice garden out of reach.

I couldn't resist this one.  Two peas in a pod.