Monday, July 1, 2013

Learning About Weather + Rainbow Activity

I wanted to create some sort of daily routine that involved learning and observation. I decided to keep it simple since Zel is still a toddler. I chose to use a calendar to check the date and make a weather wheel to record the day's weather. Every morning we go to the calender and I tell Zel which day to cross off. Then while pointing to the words/numbers, I tell him the date, including the name of day of the week. He loves this!

I found a weather wheel on Google images (find it here) and I had Zel use watercolors to paint it. We keep it on our fridge and Zel can move the arrow to the different pictures that correspond with the day's weather. Since starting this I have noticed him commenting on the weather more often. We also record the weather so that we can see what type of weather we had the most/least each month.

When we first started our weather observation I made a fun rainbow "puzzle" for Zel so that he could learn the colors. We also found a great rainbow song that we like to sing from the cat in the hat TV show.

I got out construction paper of all the rainbow colors and cut a strip of each piece plus two white clouds. I gave Zel a black piece of paper to use as a background to build his rainbow. I sang the rainbow song a lot to help him remember which color came next.

 He had fun and was really proud when he finished.

 Then we had lots of fun scissor practice with all the scrap paper!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Real Mom Decor

I loved B-Inspired Mama's post about #RealMomDecor. It's interesting to see how other families live. It makes me feel good sometimes to know that my house isn't the only one to have toys scattered everywhere. It is also nice to get organizational ideas that other Moms actually use and will actually work with kids!

Here is a link to the original post from B-Inspired Mama.

I've included a few pictures of my home, which is a little empty but we've only lived here about 2 1/2 months.

"Downstairs Playroom" - right next to the kitchen so I can keep an eye on Zel while cooking or cleaning. (This photo is featured in the original post)

"Living Room" - we have the TV wall mounted so that we can move it towards the table if we want to watch while eating (Yes, we sometimes watch TV at the dinner table)

"Playroom" - this is the real playroom with most of Zel's toys. It is upstairs and has two large closets that I use for rotating toy storage.

I would love to see what your houses look like whether they are clean or messy, designed or just making it work. You can post to your Facebook or the Z is for Zel Facebook page, twitter, etc, with the hashtag #RealMomDecor.

Can't wait to see!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cloud Dough Fight!

I have seen a lot about cloud dough and finally got around to trying it with Zel. It was a sunny and fairly warm day so I decided to set everything up outside (thankfully!). I made the cloud dough (I used the recipe from Tinkerlab) and set out a tray with various cookie cutters and measuring spoons. I anticipated some fun imaginative play where we baked a birthday cake or something along those went very differently. Zel has been throwing everything a lot and I should have realized that he would throw the cloud dough too (Maybe that is why I subconsciously thought to do this activity outside). We filled one or two cookie cutters when I showed Zel that he could make it into a ball because that is what he loves to do with play dough. Two seconds after I handed it to him he launched it at me and giggled. I tried to tell him that we should keep in the container or on the tray, but it did seem pretty fun.

So I told him that we could throw it on the ground. We talked about how the cloud dough balls broke apart, or exploded, when they hit something hard. Zel loved this, but the urge to explode one on Mommy was too great. So I bent the rules and said that we could have a cloud dough fight as long as we don't hit each other in the face. Well, I am so glad I let loose because it was a lot of fun. I think Zel enjoyed it more because I was having so much fun with him.

He even loved the clean up! We got the hose out and rinsed of the back patio. I highly recommend trying this if you don't mind a little mess :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weaning a Two Year Old

I'm back! Sorry I haven't posted much lately (it has been over two months!). My husband and I have just bought and moved into our first home :) We are so happy but it has been an exhausting process (totally worth it though). Now that we have furniture, plates, cookware, utensils, and other basic necessities, I can start getting back to normal. And that means back to blogging! Zel has loved being around so much family, but I feel like I have slacked off a little in the educational and creative activity department. We were living with my parents so most of my fun crafty stuff was shoved in the attic or deep in a closet. I feel like when I started the blog, I was a little more ambitious and tried to post at least 3 times per week. From now on I am going to aim for once a week and throw in some extra posts here and there if I have time.

We have lived in our new home for almost 3 weeks now and I felt like Zel was feeling comfortable living here. He stopped asking to go back to "Grandma and Papa's house" all the time and started saying that he wanted to go to his "new house." My husband has been trying to get me to wean Zel since his first birthday. Don't get me wrong, he supports breastfeeding and knows how great it is for Zel, but he also wanted his wife back too. I would have been happy to stop breastfeeding Zel at 12 months but he just wasn't ready. He still woke up many, many times a night and asked for it all day long. Fast forward a year and he was sleeping at night a lot better (only waking up once or twice) and taking good 2 hour naps. He only nursed in order to fall asleep or if he was sick and having a hard time during the day. For a while I didn't mind this. I knew it was good for him, and it was like having a secret weapon to make him feel better and/or sleep. However, it was starting to take a toll on me, physically and emotionally. I still got very tired during the day, like when he was a baby. I started to have a hard time letting other people touch me, whether it was other kids or even my husband.

About a week ago he was up early and had been nursing in bed with me for about an hour. He fell asleep for a few minutes then threw a fit when he woke up when I told him that we needed to take a break from nursing for the morning. At that moment I just knew that I couldn't do it anymore. My husband thought that it was time, but just made sure that it was really what I wanted to do because it wasn't going to work if I didn't really want to let go yet.

That night Zel spent the night with his grandparents so that we could have an adult celebration for my husband's 30th birthday. The next day when I picked him up, he was excited to see me but didn't ask to nurse. His Granny told me that he slept really well and it was the easiest night they had had with him at their house so far. I knew that I had to go with it, but bedtime at home was tough. If we didn't live so far away from our neighbors, they might have thought that their was some grisly stuff happening here. There was a lot of screaming. Eventually we gave up trying to get him to go to sleep at a reasonable time in his bed and let him stay up and watch television until he fell asleep. He slept the whole night in his own bed until 7am (first time ever!) The next night we stayed in bed but let him watch shows on the iPad. At 11pm when he was still awake I told him it was time to turn it off. He resisted but was so tired that he quickly fell asleep (with his hand in my shirt). When he woke up around 4am, he put his hand in my shirt and fell back asleep quickly and without any tears.

The third night was the worst. I knew that we had to stop the TV watching at bed time or it would just be another habit to break later. There was a lot of crying and screaming; Zel kept trying to hit us too. Eventually he was too tired to fight and he laid with his hand in my shirt saying "I want to nurse" until he fell asleep. It was really heartbreaking for me. I wanted to just let him nurse and stop his tears but I knew that everything else we did would be in vain and that I would regret giving in.

The next night was a total transformation. We got ready for bed without a complaint: did puzzles, read books, brushed teeth, got into jammies, and got tucked into bed by Daddy. After Daddy left the room, Zel asked to watch videos on my phone. I told him that we weren't going to watch anything but we could listen to music. He asked to listen to "Big Jack," his name for the bonus songs from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. He laid in bed calmly (still with his hand in my shirt) and fell asleep after about 5 songs. The next night it only took 4 songs and there was no resistance at all.

What made part of this process easier was that Zel had mostly stopped taking naps, so I only had to deal with weaning at night. My husband was a big supporter too. He helped a lot on those first few difficult nights. When he was comforting Zel, he was also rubbing my back and comforting me too. He even looked up what changes I might experience so that he could be prepared to help me, physically or emotionally.

Luckily, I never felt sore or swollen at all. I did, however, have times where I felt very sad and longed for the time when I could have that closeness with my son. What made that even harder for me is that Zel seemed to ask for his Daddy more once the weaning started. I was happy that he could find more comfort in his Dad, but still missed always being number 1.

I never how hard it would be to know that he is growing up and needing me less and less. But I know that no matter what happens or how old he is, I will always be his Mommy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yellow Submarine Birthday Party

I am just now realizing that I never posted about Zel's birthday party back in November. I really wanted to share a post about this because I really enjoyed preparing for it and celebrating.

Zel LOVES Yellow Submarine, the movie and the music. We listen to the CD at least once a day. Anything he comes across that he can even remotely relate to Yellow Submarine, he somehow makes a connection. I knew that we had to make the theme Yellow Submarine. He was turning two, so I didn't want to make myself crazy with too many details or spending too much money. I feel like I picked just the right amount of decoration without going overboard.

I decided to do cupcakes after getting an idea from this pin, although the link in the pin seems to no longer work. I found a silicone yellow submarine ice tray on ebay and used it as a mold for the candy. I bought the Wilton Candy Melts in yellow to make the toppers for the cupcakes. I picked green icing for the "sea of green" and black and white polka dot cupcake liners to represent the "sea of holes." I displayed everything on a cardboard cupcake tower and decorated it with ribbon and stickers.

I used a yellow table cloth and wrote "LOVE" all over it. We ate pizza off of yellow and tie dye plates. I found some fun napkins at Target.

The goodie bags were one of my favorite things about the party. I printed off different images from the movie and glued them onto yellow paper goodie bags. I filled the goodie bags with musical items (whistles, harmonicas, etc), lollipops, and yellow submarine stickers that I ordered from ebay.

We held the party at a local playground. We wrapped yellow and red streamers around the trees surrounding our picnic table. For activities, the kids mostly just played and did their own thing on the play structures. We played the Yellow Submarine CD on a portable stereo and also did face painting. Zel got a yellow submarine on his cheek, among other things.

Zel wore his yellow submarine shirt to the party (which I also purchased from ebay) that he received the night before during his family birthday dinner. We also bought him the set of figurines from the movie. He was so excited! They were a little pricey, but I got a pretty good deal on ebay...and it was worth it to see him so happy :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year celebration! Zel and I (along with Grandma) celebrated "Noon Year's Eve" at our local children's museum (We even made it into the video!). It was a little crowded but I think it was fun for Zel to see the ball drop and throw some confetti.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Egg Carton Menorah

Last night we had a family dinner at my grandparents' house for Hanukkah. I started the "Hanukkah dinner" tradition last year with Zel because I wanted him to learn about different cultures and ways to celebrate. Now that we're living back home near family, we got to involve everyone in our new tradition. My grandmother was thrilled because she was raised in a Jewish family and was so happy that we wanted to incorporate this part of our heritage into our lives. We ate latkes, pot roast, and desserts and all (except Zel) partook in some wine (even my non-wine drinking husband). Saturday night was the official start of Hanukkah, so last night we lit 5 candles. At first, Zel thought that it was a birthday party and kept singing happy birthday to Zel and Papa (whose birthday is coming up soon). Zel was very concerned once the candles went out and made sure to bring it to our attention several times.

Before Hanukkah started, Zel and I made a menorah out of an egg carton, paint, and popsicle sticks. We don't actually have a real menorah so we have been using this one at home. It is very simple to make. Cut an egg carton in half, then cut one side in half so that you have a piece with 6 and a piece with 3. You can tape them together if desired. I had some colored popsicle sticks and used 8 yellows and one blue (for the shamash). I had Zel paint the egg cartons and popsicle sticks with blue paint, then I numbered the yellow sticks from 1-8. Cut a slit in the top of each spot with a knife. Each night we place the corresponding popsicle stick in the carton.

Here is what it would look like with all the sticks in.

Happy Hanukkah!