Monday, July 27, 2009

Pickle Pinching, yes you read that right!

I was digging through "the drawer". You know, the one that is so full of junk that you can barely open it. So when you finally do open it you have to make sure nothing is sticking up in the wrong manner before you close it which would forever prevent you from opening it again?! Well, I came across our Pickle Pincher. That is the name it is marketed under! It is of course, for getting pickles out of jars and it works really well but we don't eat enough pickles for it to have a coveted place in the utensil drawer. I thought I'd try it out as a motor skill transferring activity. You have to press the red button plunger on the end of the pincher which causes 3 little metal prongs to protrude outwards. You then have to line up the prongs around the object and depress the plunger to grasp the object. I wasn't too sure if it would be too challenging but she did it without too much difficulty.
She preferred to place the object from the first basket onto the table with her fingers and than to "pinch" it with the pickle pincher to transfer it.
Aa. was into it for the first go around but it has sat on the shelf since. I have realized that I'm failing in the area of re-demonstrating activities.
I'm thinking of making a chart of all of the activities we have on the shelves and then marking when they are used so I can keep track of what is being accomplished (or not) and what I need to do to facilitate or extend the activity. Does anyone have a chart like this? If so I'd be interested to know how you set it up . If you don't have a chart how do you keep track of what's being used, learned, mastered etc.? Please share!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Love is Everywhere...

On our vacation Aa.-girl and I were as I see it, blessed by the universe with gifts of symbols of love wherever we went. The first one was courtesy of a log in our campsite. I saw it and thought "wow, that's pretty cool" Love Log is what we dubbed it.
Then we came across this rock on the path of our long day hike. Coincidence? I for one don't believe in coincidence. Being 2 years old and pure of heart Aa. of course just took it all in stride. Of course all is love Mommy!
The third made itself known in the grass outside a little community artisans store. My non-coincidence belief was strengthened.
This next one was dug up by Aa.-girl in a public sandbox outside the artisans store. Some people might think that this is getting a little weird by now. I however was delighted and awe-inspired.
This last one was found at Grandma and Grandpa T's house when we arrived back from our camping trip. What better way to end a camping trip than to be reminded that Love is Everywhere by the love nut!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crafty Camping Day 2

Camping day 2 involved a challenging hike to the top of Yeoward Mountain in Beautiful British Columbia, one craft activity when we limped back into camp and then going to bed at the same time as Aa.-girl. Worn out indeed!
We were up at 6am to try to beat the heat on our long hike. This was a change from the last 2 weeks as Aa. has been sleeping in to ~8am (so wonderful after the 5:30-6am awakenings before that) (I can't complain too much though because Aa.-girls Mama lives upstairs and more often than not she'll just go straight up and wake up Mama for breakfast) Love Mama! So either Aa. is in Vacation Mode or she's having a growth spurt.
We started the hike at 8am and promptly became separated from the group due to some mis-communication. So with 30 lbs of hiking pack and 2 year old on my back I was plodding as fast as I could to try to catch up with most of the people I figured were ahead of us. Some backtracking and attempt to use tracking skills from watching "Mantracker" on the National Geographic channel occurred. It was quite frustrating and a little unnerving not knowing which paths to follow. Some ground would not give up it's secrets as to wether any hiking boots had tread upon it. I became reserved to just hike alone with Aa.-girl and find our own way to the top. (There was some two finger loud whistling and some yelling at the top of lungs but to no avail) At last we came around a corner and there was Grandma and some of her women friends taking a break! Yay, yay yay!! We had gone the correct way! We then had a well deserved break and Aa. hiked for about 20 minutes on her own two legs which was a welcome rest for me. I felt as light as a feather after lugging her around up the mountain for an hour at top speed.
A couple of hours later found us in an alpine meadow teeming with beautiful flowers. So wonderful! The picture doesn't really do it justice.
Epic Sky
After a well earned lunch atop some lichen covered rocks, we made our way ever upwards, Aa. hiking on her own again. She became inspired to frolic in the flowers.
A little further up and we came to a patch of snow! Aa. was so excited and didn't want to leave the snow to finish the hike. We inticed her by suggesting that there may be more snow patches up higher on the mountain... and there was! At the very top was another patch which was special because it was watermellon snow. This is snow that has a pink tinge from an algae that grows on it in alpine regions and smells like fresh watermellon. I'd always wanted to see it and there it was. It smelled wonderful and made me wish for some watermellon to eat. When we pointed out to Aa. that the snow was pink and smelled like watermellon she exclaimed her patented "YEEEAAAAHHH!!!"
The view from a few hundred meters from the top.
We marked our accomplishment with an inukshuk.
We made! 3.5 hours and 2130Meters up! Now we have to go back down! I'm quite proud to say I carried 30lbs of kid all the way up the mountain. Many people asked if I wanted help but I was headstrong and determined to do it. (Boy did I pay for it later... and the next day and the next day and....)
Gorgeous Alpine flowers
The most precious thing about having Aa-girl with me on the hike was that; unlike me who has my eye on the goal ahead, she never forgets to stop and smell the flowers...
Once I limped back to the campsite (literally) we decided to do an easy and fun craft again from the book "Camp Out" while dinner was being prepared. It is called "Fern Smash T-Shirt". One plain shirt, a piece of cardboard the width and length of the body of the shirt to slip inside of it, a few choice leaves, a piece of paper and a blunt rock for smashing and you're ready to go.
You just slip the cardboard in the shirt to prevent the back of the shirt from being printed, lay some fresh leaves in a nice arrangement on the front of the shirt, lay a piece or paper over the leaves and start smashing the leaves with the rock while making sure to smash each part of the leaves while keeping them from moving around.
We were surprised at how well it turned out. I neglected to suggest to Aa.-girl that she wear her art smock while doing our camping art activities and she got paints from the leaf printing onto the shirt. It turned out to not be very water soluble paint so now she has a fern smash t-shirt with some leaf print paint dabs. It will be a fun reminder of a wonderful camping trip!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crafty Camping with Aliens, Day 1 and my sweet 2 year old can swear (even in context) Oh no...

Camping with Aa.-girl was amazing! I came prepared with lots of activities in mind (thanks to a wonderful book by the name of "Camp Out" and it paid off huge. When we arrived at the site we scouted around to see what was in the vicinity. A lovely river was spied right away.
It was right after the river sighting that we had the alien sighting! I noticed what looked like many eyes peering up from the ground. On closer inspection it seems to be some kind of dense and hard (Grandma touched it!) fungal growth with weeping dewy droplets. What the heck is that?
After that excitement it was off to collect leaves, stones and twigs to make "insects". A little glue and some found natural materials and we were "bugging" out.
We ended up making 2 each and then we placed them around the campsite. Perhaps some future campers will find our "insects" and become inspired?!
This is the one Aa.-girl spent most of her attention on.
A while later we decided to do the leaf printing activity. I purchased a scrap book, tempera paints, and 3 sponges which I cut in half to make 6 small ones. We also had a bowl of water for cleaning the paintbrush and a rag for cleanup. We went scouting for some beautiful leaves and then the fun began.
I had Aa. "paint" some paint onto a sponge so that it was mostly covered. She then chose a leaf and put it vein side up on the left hand page of her scrapbook. Achieving good coverage of paint on the leaf required some help from Mommy. She then picked up her leaf and turned it over onto the right hand page and pressed with her palms (I helped a bit here too) The result was some halo sillouettes on the left page and the prints on the right.
Overall it was a wonderful day but we did have a right of passage event so to speak. We were camping with 9 other people; Grandma and Grandpa T and 7 of their friends. Conversations were lively and I noticed a few off color words used but didn't worrry too much about it. After dinner Aa. started shouting a little more frowned upon version of "Darn-it"! I didn't really know what to do. Something in me said that I shouldn't make too big a deal about it or I might be sorry. So I just calmly but firmly told her that she shouldn't say those things, and that they weren't nice to say. She wouldn't stop so I asked her where she heard them, thinkin that it may have been just that day. She informed me that it was Daddy that she heard it from and then I remembered that one day in frustration he lost his temper and had said just that. Whoah... That event was a good 2 weeks previous so we have now been reminded what those sweet little absorbent minds can do; take it in and show it to you later to teach you a lesson to control yourself. I now wonder what gems will pop out of her mouth down the road a few weeks after our camping trip!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My daughter manifests cats! Oh and we've been treasure hunting.

Treasure hunt #1 The first day we arrived at Grandma and Grandpa T.'s we decided to go to a local park to look for a geocache. For those not in the know, it's a high-tech version of hide-and-seek. Geocachers seek out hidden treasures utilizing GPS coordinates posted on the Internet by those hiding the cache. Unfortunately all of the pictures from this adventure were lost due to a power outage that has somehow fouled up the computer. ;o( It's so much fun, but the point was kind of lost on Aa.-girl as of course her 2 year old intellect did not understand the GPS unit. She did however enjoy choosing a treasure from the cache to keep and leaving a new one in the cache!
Treasure hunt #2 A few days later and we were (as previously mentioned) coloring rice. Following in Jen's footsteps again, we made a treasure bottle. If you haven't seen one, it contains the colored rice and any little "treasures" you wish to put in. An accompanying picture chart of what treasures are in the bottle helps in knowing when you've found them all.
Aa. wasn't as interested in it as I was but I think it's growing on her. I however am hooked as I have spent about 30 minutes with the darn thing and have yet to find the illusive dime. I'm beginning to believe it's vanished into the ether!
Treasure hunt #3 (here's where it gets interesting...) I made up 2 picture lists of "treasures" for Aa. girl to find around the house. One indoors and one outdoors. Aa. chose to do the outdoor hunt. We have yet to do the indoor hunt. I gave her the list sheet and a little pad of sticky notes. When a treasure was found (touched by Aa.-girl) she would put a sticky note on the corresponding treasure picture to indicate that it had been found.
This activity required a little prompting by me to make it fun and to keep Aa. focused on what she was looking for. A lot of language was used to lead her in the right direction. I will hype it up a little better next time, reduce the number of objects and discuss where we might find each object along the way.
At one point we had managed to find all but two of the treasures. The last two were animals so of course they could be unpredictable or unfindable. It was such a hot day so I thought that maybe all animals would be hiding in the shade. We decided to sit on the front porch for a bit to see what might "happen along" Now I must say that it was hot, a stinking hot 42deg. C (107deg F)!and I had absolutely no hope of a cat or even a crow appearing. I asked Aa. "would you like to go inside and do the indoor treasure hunt or would you like to stay here a while longer to see what comes along"? To my surprise and disappointment ( I wanted the air-conditioning by now) she wanted to stay to see what would happen. It wasn't 2 seconds after the words left her mouth that she joyfully exclaimed "A cat!!!" I couldn't believe my eyes. I was enchanted. the first thing I thought was "My daughter just manifested a cat, she can manifest cats" It was a magical moment, one of those ones that I simply won't forget.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Out on the range and making rainbows

We're on our visiting spree which may sound hurried and whirlwind, but we are definitely stopping to smell the roses (and the sagebrush)! Aa.'s Grandpa J's girlfriend needed to collect some sage to decorate the front porch of the General Store on the ranch where she works.
Aa.-girls first foray onto the rangeland. We were enveloped in a warm fragrant wind and accompanied by cattle dog Ricky. It doesn't get any better than that!
After a few days on the ranch which were predominantly spent outdoors, we made it to Grandma and Grandpa T's. Being in a town (and having access to a computer that wasn't on dialup internet; the ranch is wonderful but it has it's downsides too) meant I could go to the dollar store and create some activities. We colored some rice (highly recommended by Jen from Montessori beginnings so we had to try it out!) using primary colors only. This was Aa.-girl's first (I think) (maybe she has done something similar at preschool?) exposure to what color components make up different colors. I made up a chart of the three primary colors and then the combining of the primary colors to produce the secondary colors as well as the order of the rainbow colors. We ended up with 6 colors of the rainbow (we didn't make magenta) and then followed in Jen's footsteps (we do that alot!) and made a rainbow bottle by layering the rice. I extended the activity later by giving Aa. playdough balls of the three primary colors of playdoug and getting her to match them up to the chart I had made.
We then squooshed and squished the dough colors together to make green, orange and purple. She then matched them up to the chart as well.
We finished by lining up the colors according to the rainbow.
Both the "colored rice activity" and the "making playdough colors activity" were great as they required all aspects of Montessori philosophy: sensorial (looking at the different colors), motor (mixing and squishing), cognitive (understanding how colors are made as well as matching up colors) practical life (clean-up was extensive with the rice; I shook a rice bag too vigorously and made a mess! That's OK Aa. loves to sweep!) Language (naming the colors) social (we had to work together to create our colors) We loved these activities and we're looking forward to making more colored rice to use in craft projects.
A few more days here at Grandma and Grandpa T.'s and we'll be off camping. First time putting Aa.-girl in a real heavy-duty hiking carrier. I can't wait to be surrounded by the calming energy of the forest trees while we hike along together. Every day with Aa. is better than the next. Her language skills are blowing me away and we have extensive conversations now. Bedtime gets longer and longer because that is when we have our most intimate chats. It used to be that I'd want the routine to be fairly quick so I could get everything done so that I could move on to finishing household chores and then relax with my husband. I now soak up every precious moment while Aa. recaps with delight what we did that day and who she is grateful for. Sigh... my little love!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blending and Bicycling

Today Aa.-girl and I made some raw vegan caesar salad dressing. I laid out the ingredients in the order to be put into the blender and she followed my instructions perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised. Verbal instructions are becoming easier for her to follow. I couldn't demonstrate the activity or I'd have to have 2 batches of dressing. I guess in hindsight that wouldn't have been so bad as it's so yummy!
Here's Aa. on her balance bike, otherwise known as a running bike. If you have yet to hear about them you're in for a treat in my opinion. They are very small, two wheeled bicycles without pedals. Toddlers as young as 18mo. can learn how to balance and glide along on the bike. No need for training wheels which essentially hinder the child from learning to balance. I think Maria Montessori would have approved! Aa. ha a Strider Bike. The videos of the kids riding is adorable and impressive. So far Aa. isn't too interested in hers even though she's had it since she was 18mo. old. She can walk with it between her legs by herself but hasn't developed the confidence to sit on the seat and push along yet. I'm sure it will come soon. We first bought her a wooden German made balance bike but we found it to be too heavy for our slight little girl to handle and the turning radius of the front wheel was designed to be very large so riding it in small spaces was not doable. I highly recommend these bikes instead of tricycles. Much more fun and is pretty much an open ended learning tool.
We are going on a visiting spree for 2 weeks starting today. First to Grandpa J.'s then to Grandma and Grandpa T.'s and we'll go camping and to see 3 great grandma's! I probably won't be posting much until after the trip but I'm sure we'll have so much to share when we get back! I hope I come up with some new ways to keep a 2 year old happy in the car for extended periods of time. Will share if I do!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Update 1 on the "Pee Pee Protest"

As I mentioned last Sunday, Aa. had been having a pee pee in her pants day and Mommy has to be near me day. I had surmised that it might have stemmed from having her routine interrupted by the whole family being together and not doing many formal activities . I also posed the question, could it have something to do with Daddy? It may be a bit of the former, but it seems to be shaping up to be more of the latter. Poor Daddy! He made it home in time Tuesday night to put her in bed. If he's here he gets her ready for bed and does the whole bedtime routine with her. As soon as he arrived home she peed in her pants! Then later when they were saying good-night and came to talking about what she was grateful for that day she made a point of telling him she wasn't grateful for him. He asked her if she was mad at him and she affirmed Yes. He asked me to come and talk with her about it but she would not elaborate with either of us. I discussed it with my friend Jen from MontessoriBeginnings and she suggested that maybe she is upset at not receiving as much attention from me while my husband is home. Whatever it is, we've decided to dedicate one day per weekend as Daddy Day where they will spend exclusive time alone together without Mommy around. They can recapture some close moments like the one below. I'm now excited for them and for me as well! What will I do with my free time! What won't I do is a better question!