April 29, 2011

Tuckered Out

Tuckered out at Target

Why take them to Disneyland when playing at Target results in this?!

April 27, 2011

Little Explorers: Polymer Power

It's a leak-proof bag!

Here's another little science experiment for you!

Poking Plastic with Pencils

Here's what you need:
  • gallon size zipper bag (Ziploc brand works best)
  • water
  • several freshly sharpened pencils
Fill the zipper bag about 2/3 full of water.  Zip it up.  Hold on tight and push a sharp pencil all the way through both sides of the bag.  Make sure the point of the pencil gets all the way through.  Repeat with all the pencils you have.  You might want to practice over a bucket or sink the first time. 

I repeated the experiment (with a 2nd bag) and had Isabella push the pencils in.  Twice she started to poke the bag and then wanted to put the pencil in a different spot (causing the bag to leak).  So I had her do it fast.  Spear it!

Questions to ask while experimenting:
  • What will happen if I poke a hole in this bag of water?
  • What if I do it again?
  • Why doesn't the water leak out?
  • What will happen if I take out the pencils?
What is happening:

All plastics are made out of polymers.  Polymers are long links of molecules that are usually very strong and stretchy.  When you poke the pencil into the plastic bag the polymers move and stretch (rather than tear) and then seal around the pencil; preventing any water from leaking.

Extreme experimentation:

Do it over an unsuspecting friend's head.    

Notice how Isabella quickly moved her legs because she thought she would get wet.

April 26, 2011

April 24, 2011

Eggs in the Mail

Isabella loves to make things and she also loves to give her creations away.  (Our sweet neighbors are usually the recipients of her creativity.)  She also loves to send things in the mail, especially to her cousins.  When I saw this idea to mail easter eggs filled with goodies in the mail, I knew she would flip.  She basically did.  As soon as we gathered the supplies she wouldn't let me rest until they were in the big blue mailbox.  We sent one to each of her cousins (except the babies, sorry Kate & Marek) and almost all of them made it.  (We do feel terrible that a couple didn't ever show up or arrived broken.)

Ceci, my oldest niece, was so happy to find the surprise during her grueling week of finals.

April 20, 2011

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

The ladies from church put together a very fun Easter egg hunt today.  We loved it!

one mom made amazing "cake pops" 

so many eggs, so few hiding spots

the little kids got a head start, the big kids getting ready to storm in

her loot

he had no interest in finding eggs but played the piano instead
he was happy until right when I took this photo--another little boy touched the piano
my interpretation: "I just can't take it anymore!"

Dying Eggs

I love Isabella at 4 years old!  I feel like she really loves these little traditions.  I haven't felt much of a need to form family traditions until lately.  She finally gets it and loves it.  I actually haven't dyed Easter eggs with her until this year...which made it all the more fun for me.  I've missed it.

When I saw this simple idea on the Artful Parent I thought we'd give it a try.  Draw, with crayons, on the eggs while they are still warm and the wax will melt and create cool designs.  Then dye.  We used the dying directions on the back of the food coloring box.

Ask Mr. Bear

Last week we worked on the book Ask Mr. Bear from our Before Five in a Row (B4FIAR) curriculum.  It's about a little boy who tries to figure out what he should give his mom for her birthday.  He asks a variety of animals and then Mr. Bear gives him an idea of the best birthday present: a big bear hug.

Here are some of the activities we enjoyed with this book:

matched the sounds to the animals
compared the brown bears and the grizzly bears at the AMNH
Did you know the brown bear is the largest carnivore?
They weigh over 1600lbs!
move like the animals 
put together puzzle of mom and baby animals
had an "unbirthday" party with friends
all lap book activities found at homeschool share

Not pictured: lots and lots of big bear hugs!

April 18, 2011

Simon: 4 months

Simon has had a busy month.  He sprouted his first tooth almost two weeks ago (teething at 3.5 months = crazy).  His eczema also got pretty bad.  I'm still in the process of jumping through hoops with our new insurance so we can get him to the doctor.  Unfortunately, he spends a lot of time with socks on his hands and swaddled to prevent him from scratching and sucking his hands (which also have eczema).  He's such a little trooper.  

Despite his obviously uncomfortable skin he is all smiles.  I treasure those moments when I am busy, busy, busy but I glance over at him in the bouncy seat and he's just grinning, oh so lovingly, at me.  It melts my heart.  He still gets super excited and squirms with delight when I reach to pick him up.  The biggest, guaranteed grins come when I talk to him in a super high-pitched voice.  He loves it!

He almost turns over on his left side.  He's just got to swing those hips and he'll be belly down.  Although he can squirm himself all over the place while he's on his back.  He's working on his reaching and grabbing at objects.  But loves to hold my finger while nursing if his hands are free.

His nighttime sleep habits have taken a turn for the worse (I'm assuming maybe because of the teeth?!)  In the last two weeks I think he has slept more than 3 hours only once.  Most nights he's up every hour after about 2am.  It's been a bit rough.  But his naps are awesome!  2.5-3 hours at a time.

He is truly a delight.  Mellow and super happy.  We all adore him.  Isabella loves to hold him and make him laugh.  Oliver tries to get him to play sometimes.  

We love you Simon and were are so happy you are our baby boy!

April 13, 2011

Educational Insights

Last week we received Isabella's acceptance letter in the mail.  Phew!  She finally got into PS 87.  She was #10 on the wait list for awhile.  Have you read this Wall Street Journal article?  An Unhappy Rite of Spring: The Wait List.  I love it.

Since posting my very brief thoughts on our experience with New York City public schools a lot of family, friends and some strangers have been quite generous in sharing their thoughts and experiences about school and education.  I love learning from others and really appreciate everyone's concerns and insights, especially concerning homeschooling.  Homeschooling is one of those funny topics that everyone has an opinion on and everyone loves to share their opinion!

Much of my (extremely limited) free time is spent researching education.  It is the most important decision we will be making in our near future.  Isabella and education: what is best for her and, therefore, best for our family?

If you didn't know, I'm a non-conformist by nature.  (It's a blessing and a curse, trust me!)  I have 6 siblings and I'm the only one without red (very red) hair.  That's how it all started, I'm sure.  As a kid, when it was time to pick an instrument to play I chose the violin when all my siblings were budding pianists.  They all chose to learn German, I picked Spanish.  I never graduated from high school (nope, not even a GED) but have a college degree.

It's in my nature to question conformity.  And so, I must learn.  Since so many of you were interested in my thoughts the last time I wrote about school I thought this might be a good forum to share some interesting articles, lectures, etc. as I come across them.

Do you know Sir Ken Robinson?  I love his lectures and agree with a lot of what he has to say.

This animated lecture by Sir Ken Robinson is great:

And, just in case you are curious, here are my five brothers:

**I do have an awesome older sister (who has matching red hair) but for some reason I don't have any good digital photos with everyone.

April 12, 2011

The Littlest Sartorialist

When she walked out of the apartment wearing this today I thought of the famous fashion blog The Sartorialist and had to snap a photo.

She dresses herself and does a mighty fine job most days.  I think my fashionista friends, Erica and Roxy, would be so proud!

jacket: Oliver's closet, Gap (hand-me-down)
red tank top: Oliver's closet, American Apparel (size 24 mos)
skirt: Gymboree (hand-me-down)
cable tights: H&M
ballet flats: H&M
umbrella: H&M
basket: handmade by a family friend
headband: Rainbow Brite by Target
watch: heart rate monitor with a dead battery

Unique New York

Broadway & W 72nd St.  You never know what is lurking in the sewer!

April 10, 2011

Homeschool Preschool

Last fall all of Isabella's friends began preschool.  We choose to not pay for private preschool and she did not get into any public preK programs that we applied to (via a lottery system).  I decided I would do some homeschooling for preschool.  But then September came and we travelled all over the country for a month.  When we returned home I spent 100% of my free time looking for a new apartment.  Then we moved.  Then I had a baby.  And the holidays happened.  And we are just finishing with Brian transitioning between jobs.  Wow-zah!  Life has been busy!

What I had planned to begin in September is just now finally happening!  Way back when, I came across a cool program called Five in a Row.  It's a literature program that uses children's books as a foundation and then incorporates a wide variety of learning opportunities based on that book.  We started with Before Five in a Row, which is a little more open and relaxed approach.  One thing that really sold me on using this curriculum was that there are a lot of bloggers who are using it and post loads of inspirational ideas.  Delightful Learning has been a major inspiration so far.

This week we started the program with the book, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?  It is a fun book, full of sweet rhymes centered on what a little bear will wear throughout the day.  The kids and I really enjoyed reading the story every morning and then doing a few related activities.

Here are just a handful of activities we did last week:

coloring fun

matching rhymes

whole wheat bear pancakes

just cute

identifying shapes in the book and then painting

more painting

a teddy bear picnic--almost the same lunch Jesse Bear ate--the kids actually tried the celery with sprouts

Isabella really enjoyed the picnic

this is the lap book with a lot the activities we worked on

April 9, 2011

Liesl & Co.

I don't consider myself a seamstress (sewer? sewist?) by any means.  But I have learned to sew a bit these last few years.  My mom taught me the basics when I was a teen and I sewed a few items, but never really liked what I made.  Since a friend gave me an old 1930's Singer I've attempted to make a few items for Isabella and I've loved it.  Other than coaching from my mom (and a bit from my sister) I owe my sewing success to the Oliver + S patterns created by Liesl & Co.  I have loved everything I have made.  I so wish I had more time, money and space to make more of these adorable clothes for my children.

Last Saturday Liesl was part of the Crafternoon at the New York Public Library.  Last minute I decided to head down there with Isabella to make super cute paper dolls.  It was a pleasure to meet Liesl and thank her, in person, for teaching me how to sew.  She was fun to talk with and generously held Simon almost the whole time as she met and talked with a room full of crafters.

Here are the clothes I made from the Oliver + S patterns.  I really want to make more...

The 2+2 blouse and skirt.  I made the mistake of making the top green.
She only wore the top twice because it was green.
The skirt got plenty of use (with a purchased pink top).

The bubble dress.  She'll wear this again this summer.

The lazy days skirt.  Super-duper easy!  I plan to make a few more this year.
Click on the link for the free tutorial.

The tea-party sundress.  Isabella's favorite!  She still asks if she can wear it.
It's too small & has been in storage for 2 years now.
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