Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn and hope

So my laptop's trackpad is broken and the laptop is getting fixed.

Until it's done, Mr. River and I are sharing the PC, which means all work no play :)

Well, a little bit of play, while Mr. River sleeps!

It does mean a lot of crochet time after I get my work done though! And I finally finished two scarves for my aunt :) An autumn scarf and a breast-cancer ribbon scarf

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wall pumpkins

Lots of posts today!

I posted about the autumn tree we made,our apple picking, and the falling leaves art we did.  We've also been coloring and painting things related to fall.

Today, we painted pumpkins to create a pumpkin patch next to our tree. One thing I really liked with how our art happened today was that I did an art project with each girl while the other rested or napped.

So while Blue rested, Baby Bear and I painted some pumpkins :) We tried to do diaper print pumpkins, but those didn't turn out so great haha! So we just stuck with fingerpainting and ballpainting the pumpkins.

I used a ball from Baby Bear's activity garden since it is easily washable. Baby Bear rolled it through all of the paint, turned it around to see all the colors, and eventually tried to taste it.

After Baby Bear was done painting, into the tub she went. Then it was her naptime. Blue's rest time was up, so then I got some one-on-one time with Blue. She watercolor painted her pumpkins. Then I printed out several coloring pages of pumpkins and Halloween fun and we spent some time coloring those with crayons.

oh and did I mention the delicious pumpkin spice muffins we had for snack?

What a great day - art, fun, and one-on-one time with each!

Autumn tree

So this is only about a month late in posting :) But at the beginning of September, we started an Autumn tree project. The goal was to make a tree that we could use as a focal point for arts and crafts we'd be making over the fall. The tree itself became a project, with several days of making leaves, gluing them on (even the ABA instructor helped), and finally putting it on the wall. 

So first, I cut out an outline of a tree and branches. Then we colored it. I didn't take pictures of this part.

For the leaves, we did all sorts of things. We used apple prints from the apples we picked. Blue fingerpainted some of them, colored some with crayons, and also colored some with markers. We also did handprints on a few. 

Finally, I cut leaves out of the painted pages, cut out the apples, and we glued it all together for a beautiful tree!

Scarf turns blanket

Tunisian crochet is slow. It is slower than crochet, certainly. But, I almost feel like it may also be slower than knitting. To be fair, I'm new at it, so of course it's slow.  Once upon a time - like even two years ago, crochet seemed to take me forever too.

But, upon working on the Tunisian scarf for several ours and having less than a foot done, I stared at it and realized... It's way too wide to be a scarf. Mr. River tried to comfort me and say it could be folded in half.

Thanks, dear.

I promptly cast off, finished off, and decided it would become a doll blanket for Blue's dolls. I'll add a pillow to it, perhaps. One Christmas gift down!

But I still need to finish that scarf. And since the knitting attempt I started was going too slow for my taste, I am back to the drawing board on the pattern I will use. I may just wing it.

Crochet/knitting/yarn aside, life has been hectic. I'm reading a good book called How to Write a Lot. The name sound silly, but really it's a useful book about building practical, productive, efficient writing habits. I need such habits. To emphasize this point, I am mostly reading it on the Kindle (on the iPad) while I nurse Baby Bear at night or for naps. That's how scattered my work habits feel. I do get a few hours of dedicated work time each morning, so I need to make them work better.

And to add to this, my touchpad on my laptop is on the fritz. Ok, not just on the fritz, it's been labeled Legally Fritzy and is on the verge of being committed. The cat splashed a few droplets of water on it. A few droplets. But apparently that was enough. After several days of hoping it'd straighten up, I have disabled everything it's supposed to do (and would disable it entirely if I take the time to figure that out), and am now using a normal mouse. Which means working on a laptop isn't feeling very mobile right now. And because the touchpad isn't completely deactivated, but is still all Legally Fritzy, whenever I try to work at all the touchpad decides to drag windows, close things, randomly tap and highlight and delete. You get the idea.

Yes, minor stuff. Just annoying.

Whining aside!  We have had a few great evenings. I took the girls for a nice hour at the park the other day, and they had a blast :) Baby Bear just loves and loves that she can crawl around the playstructures now. And the park we go to has a really nice "toddler" play structure that is perfect for her.

We also made some delicious chickpea soup, found on pinterest :) I added a few chicken breasts, did not add any chili, and then shredded the chicken when it was done. It turned out great! Even Blue liked it :) The first night, I gave Baby Bear just some mashed chickpeas and pieces of shredded chicken. I couldn't figure out how to give her the spinach, though soft, without it being a problem. 

So, the next day, into the food chopper the soup went! And she loved it! chickpeas, chicken, spinach, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, oh my. It made a ton of food! We had leftovers for two days of it. I put the rest in the blender, froze it in our minimuffin tray, and popped the individual servings out into a freezer bag. Now we have 24 servings of chicken and chickpea soup for the girls!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tunisian Crochet

One other little thing I forgot to say - I (finally) learned to Tunisian crochet! It isn't hard, it just looked intimidating and so I kept putting off learning it. But now I know the basic stitch and am loving the look :)

Fall reading

We hit the library this week to check out some books about fall, seasons, and of course, Halloween. We have a few books about Halloween and fall, but I've been wanting to add in a few more to read. Plus, it was very hot - 92F - and we don't have air conditioning at home. So the library was a nice place to go for the afternoon.

Over the summer, we went to the library a lot. The visits kind of decreased in frequency as the end of summer approached and we were busy in the chaos of other things. It was good to go back though. The local library is amazing - they have great kids programs (a reading program in almost every language - really! Even  Russian and Chinese), a lot of seasonal events, and a great children's room complete with coloring pages, puzzles, and some toys. 

Wednesday was our first time visiting during the schoolyear, though. The children's area had a ton of toys out! I don't know if they've added more toys or just bring  out more during the schoolyear, but it was great! Blue put on a puppet show for Baby Bear, and the baby loved their Zany Zoo.
I found several great books about fall and Halloween. We also found some books about owls - something Blue has been having a lot of nightfears about.

Between those books and the fall and Halloween books we already had, we have a great assortment of things to read. And just in time, too, as a nice fall storm came in and finally broke the temperatures! So we've been enjoying some great fall afternoons, snuggled under blankets and reading while the wind and rain blow outside.

Baby Bear also found a book she loved at Target about Halloween. It's our first Katz book (aside from a Potty book we have) and baby LOVES it! She lifts the flaps, squawks at the pictures, turns the pages, and claps whenever we read it. I think we may have to add a few more of these books to our future library trips :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Falling leaves

Yesterday was a pinterest day! When Blue was a baby, I didn't know about pinterest and wasn't on it, so all of the crafts and whatnot were things I had either done as a child, saw from blogs, or thought sounded fun. 

Pinterest has opened a whole new world of fun things to do, though :)

Our theme for this month has been fall - harvest, pumpkins, season changes, etc. They're doing "fall" in Blue's nursery school class and well, it's the perfect season for it obviously! So we have gone outside and watched the trees, we made our "forest tree" last month (still need to upload pics), and we wove baskets (also need to upload) to keep our "apples" and "pumpkins" in under the tree. 
A few days ago, I searched "fall craft" on pinterest, and people had a ton of great ideas. I do believe I spammed my pinterest page full of repins :) This is one of the projects I came across and thought "how perfect." So yesterday we attempted to do just a straight art image of it. And in the future we can do the ziplock bag falling leaves part :)

So for the art project, I assembled the craft paper, scissors, and glue. 

When Blue woke up from her nap, she had her snack - an apple - while I started cutting out a tree for each edge of the paper. I just freehanded it. Blue and I talked about fall, how the weather changes, and how the leaves change colors. They must be talking about apples at school, because Blue told me all about how apples fall from trees in the fall too :)

Materials assembled, I glued the trees to our paper (I wanted a black backdrop, but decided purple would work too). And then I talked about how in the fall the leaves start to fall, and I put a bunch of glue spots on the paper on the branches and falling down to the ground. 

Then we added our leaves, another layer of glue on top of the "floor leaves" and then dumped the remainder of the leaves onto the "ground." It turned out quite nicely!

This only took about twenty minutes though, so we then headed out to the grass to actually look at the trees. Fortunately, even in San Diego, we have some trees that change coors and drop their leaves :) All three of us laid under a tree and looked up to see how the top of the tree was becoming bare and  how the leaves were changing colors and falling. Blue then rode her tricycle around while Baby Bear attempted to taste a few leaves.

Then we grabbed the stroller and went for a walk to collect some fallen leaves for another pinterest project I wanted to do. We only walked across the street, but Blue and I searched for and pointed out all the leaves that had changed colors and fallen. Across the street, a few of the trees looked gorgeous in reds and yellows! We found some great leaves to take home. Baby Bear enjoyed patting and petting the leaves and would "oooh" and squawk at the trees as we all looked up. We stopped for a bit of frozen yogurt -because, despite all these changing colors and falling leaves, it was still in the high 70s!! 

And when we got home, we enjoyed some chicken chili - again from pinterest! It was delicious and a great way to end the fall day - even if the weather was too hot to really feel "fall." :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Ladybug Game

Game nights were always some of my favorite memories from my childhood. My mom didn't play games too often with us, but we would go to my cousins' houses and play with them. It was always awesome to sit at a table with adults and essentially be equal to them in the game. To match wits and skill and try to win. Mr. River and I have talked before about wanting to do game nights with the girls when we're sure they won't swallow random pieces. 

Blue is now three - the minimum age recommended for quite a few childhood classics! She'd been playing a few boardgames with ABA aimed at younger children: Hulabaloo, Candy Land castle (preschool version?), and Cariboo. Supposedly she was doing great at the real CandyLand game while at her friend's house as well. 

So Sunday afternoon rolled around, Baby Bear was still napping, Blue had just finished resting (i.e. had refused to take a nap, sigh). So we pulled out one of the games that Blue got for her birthday. She got three: a Disney princess cupcake game, Ladybug Game, and a Dr. Seuss matching game. She opted for the Ladybug game. So I poked out the game pieces, skimmed the instructions, and we were off!!! Just in time for Baby Bear to wake up and decide she wanted to play too!

The game is pretty easy - you are a ladybug and your goal is to get to the finish line. Each turn, you pick up a ladybug card that tells you how many spaces to go forward or back. At two points you are stopped during the game: The praying mantis requires a "pass" and the ants require 10 aphids (game pieces you collect via squares and cards).

Simple enough. 

Blue know how to count and can recognize 0-9, so she had no problem picking up and reading the cards. She also has a great attention span. However, there is a certain cultural knowledge that goes along with playing a game as a game and not just treating it as a toy. Blue wanted to zoom her ladybug all over the board and didn't really grasp the idea of wanting to get to the end of the game - where there really was no reward except "yay you won!"

Nonetheless, she did great with a bit of guidance and redirection from us. She counted out her aphids for the ant, gave the praying mantis his pass (though looked rather confused by this), and won the first match!

 Baby Bear did her part to add some chaos to it by constantly launching herself - over daddy's legs - to attempt to eat the aphids (part ant?). We tried to distract her with the fourth ladybug game piece, but after turning it in her hands a few times, it was launched, and she went back for the aphids. Good thing daddy has quick reflexes!

So all in all, a great afternoon and a fun way to start our own Family Game nights/afternoons. Though, I think we will limit the games to Baby Bear's naps :)

Fall fun: Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin season - my second favorite season!

And to start this season right - a pumpkin hat for Baby Bear. Blue still fits in the one I made for her in 2010, so she was already set :) Last year I came across a different kind of pattern for pumpkin hats and I'd have to say I've liked it so far. It does take a lot of math/conversions to get the size right but I think the ridges of the hat make for a really good "pumpkin" look :) Plus it's super stretchy so hopefully will get a few years of use out of it!

One of our favorite fall traditions is going to the pumpkin patch. It is about 45 minutes or so from here, out in the "country" area of northeast of San Diego.  The pumpkin patch is great, it's a family run farm that pretty much revolves just around their pumpkin patch. They grow pumpkins of many varieties (carving, cinderella, giants) and also have gourds, a corn maze, corn husk cannon, and some animals. 

Blue's been going since she was 13 days old :)

Mr. River had this weekend off work, so after Blue's gymnastics we headed over there!

First we visited the animals. Blue got to pet a buffalo and donkey. We also got to see baby pigs - too cute! The goats felt their ramps were more interesting than us mere humans, so we just watched them from afar. Baby Bear yelped and waved excitedly at all of them, she loves all things furry.  

Blue also climbed up and down the giant boulders they have - making me a nervous wreck but proving she is quite the monkey.

Then off to the pumpkins we went! I snagged a high-walled wagon, thinking it would prevent Baby Bear from flipping out. But it had an added bonus of letting the girls watch the ground move beneath them. 

Baby Bear gave it a round of applause.

We put the pumpkin hats on the girls, but they both protested. It was just too hot (about 80F). So we plopped the hats back on them for photos but otherwise let their heads cool off.

We went back through the pumpkin fields, let the girls out of the wagon to explore. I even took some photo opportunities with Baby Bear who tolerated mama's weird ideas of adventure.

I'd like to eventually go through the corn maze, but we always wind up bypassing it to just pick the pumpkins, play in the fields, take pictures, and enjoy the massive barn. Maybe next year :)

While out in the field, I went to inspect some of the pumpkins and came back to a wagon full! Blue took her job of finding a pumpkin quite seriously. She found every single pumpkin her little arms could lift

After emptying the wagon back out, we did keep one of the small pam pumpkins for Baby Bear but headed to the main pumpkin field to pick out ours. We got a bit sidetracked by the old tractor.

Then we explored the texture of the pumpkin vines some more. Baby Bear was not impressed.

No luck on finding pumpkins that "clicked" with us to bring home though, so we headed into the barn where they have rows upon rows and wagons upon wagons of pumpkins. I also got the annual picture in front of the tractor. 

We found our pumpkins - Blue found one for her, all mottled on one side but perfect in her eyes.  I found a nice round one, which wound up being the smallest of the three big ones (hmm, hope these don't reflect any kind of hierarchy!). Mr. River also found one that he liked. We also picked up some gourds for decoration, since Baby Bear excitedly yelled and yelped at them, then gave us this expression in her excitement:

After paying for the pumpkins, we lounged a bit on the grass then headed back home to enjoy a nice fall evening :)