Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leap Day Celebration

I'm a big fan of celebrating little things and it gives me a focus for some activities and crafts. So naturally celebrating a day that only happens once every four years seemed like a good idea. And hey, it's Maddie's first Leap Day! Things have been a big frog-centric around here ever since we saw Princess and The Frog, so that was a good jumping off point (hehe!)

These pictures are terrible, as per usual but hey, you get pictures. First we made some frogs.

Then we had a dinner: Those pancakes are supposed to be shaped like frogs and lilypads; kiwi (aka more lilypads); and flies on a log (obviously celery, pb and raisins).

We did an awesome science experience which I found here, that I renamed "Catching Flies."

You drop raisins into a glass of sparkling water and the raisins give off lots of bubbles and then gradually pop to the surface before dropping back down. Maddie liked trying to touch them and fish them out. She made me repeat the experiment over and over again, and probably would have stared at it all night if we didn't have a Leap-lympics to get to.

Ok, the quality of the photos above was bad, but this is worse -- and it all has to do with my badly lit apartment and a little girl who is constantly on the go.

I set up a little obstacle course that included jumping off a little stool, over a ruler, into a circle that I had taped onto the floor and hopping from lily pad to lily pad.

Every time I tried to take a picture, Maddie would walk up to me and stand in front of me, like this.

And lastly, we did a clothespin drop, but used clothespins that I had glued little froggies to. It's an easy enough game: You just stand next to a bucket, hold the clothespin to your nose and try to drop it into the bucket. Maddie loves to kneel on a chair and drop stuff into buckets, too.

It sounds like a lot, but they were all little activities with very little prep time at all. And there was even time for some cuddling with Aunt Dode:

Happy Leap Day!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Making Playdough

This week has been a little on the long side. While I've been home for Winter Break (God love the Buffalo school systems. I mean two spring breaks? Genius!), we've been doing some of this:

Yup, potty training. Which means we've been staying indoors close to the potty all week.

My awesome Mother came over yesterday to give me a break and my husband has been doing his best to help during a rather busy week. But still there are only so many hours in the day that a girl can color. Right?

Then it dawned on me last night that I was just not planning enough or being creative enough. Sometimes I'm so ready for a vacation that I forget to actually plan out things to do and then I get stuck in a rut. Ugh.

So this morning we made playdough. I had seen this idea around the internets and Maddie loves to watch the video on YouTube. But I was a little leery of trying it as I sensed disaster looming -- disaster for my pans, disastrous lumps of unusable gunk, disastrous mess...

Then I found this site:

Super easy directions and, my favorite, step by step pictures. Voila!

Maddie stirs the ingredients. (I'm not a bad mom - that stove isn't on. But she is wearing "Santa's Little Helper jammies with Mardi Gras beads).

Surprisingly un-messy. Though I am still soaking that pot.

Maddie takes a break to drink hot cocoa with "horsemellows" (ironic, huh?) while watching the snow fall. I know, snow in Buffalo! It's shocking.

How much fun is this, Maddie?

Then you mush in the color. I mean YOU the adult because this is what happens:

Reasons to do craft projects at the beginning of a vacation. Hmmm, maybe I can paint my nails black and pass it off...

Then Maddie says,

You take the spoons and you flip it. It took me 10 minutes to work in the color into four different doughs.

It took her one minute to smush it into one ball. Well, at least we took a break from coloring.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Easter Countdown

I must admit that Easter is one of my favorite times of year. Primarily because winter is my least favorite time of year. Seeing as how I never got around to so many of my Christmas and fall crafts last year, I thought I would kick lent off with a little Easter-spring craft goal list. Really this is my way of insuring that I don't fall into the Pinterest trap. As you may have noticed from past posts, I like to review my pins and try to make smaller checklists for myself. Here goes:

There are Cadbury Mini Eggs involved. Need I say more?

Hmmm, I'm sensing a theme.

A little science project that is perfect for the spring.

I'm kind of tempted to do this too...

This could be a little fun to-do with Maddie (or by myself while she shows no interest.)

Of course there are also the every year traditions like making onion-dyed eggs and trips to the conservatory in Niagara Falls to see the Easter flowers.

But really this is the true countdown: So let it be written. So let it be done.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Ash Wednesday!

Hmmm, that doesn't sound right. I want to share a bit about our Mardi Gras even if it is a bit late.

Maddie, her grandma and I made Mardi Gras masks (just cardboard, construction paper and random craft supplies). I cut myself no less than twice. Nice!

Maddie's got her eye on you.

My mom, hard at work after two attempts at Fascht Nachts. (Turns out you should read directions when you only cook something once a year).

These things are delicious coated in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.

Maddie liked them so much she apparently took a bath in them.

And yes, Rob did eat his alligator Po-boy, though I did notice it was only a small one and he ate a big heap of my jambalaya.

Also, Wegmans has a pretty good king cake for those of you locals.

Laissez les bons temps roulez! Um, actually no... Time to repent.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 20, 2012

My big kid

I was just looking through some photos on my phone and saw these:

That's my big kid. She told me her name is not Maddie anymore because she's a big kid now.

Friday, February 17, 2012

That's it

Maybe it's the unpredictable weather. Maybe it's our crazy schedules. Or maybe just maybe two-and-a-half is the age when your house implodes, but I've had it.

I wonder how often you loyal readers notice that my house is always a mess in pictures. Like this one:

(That's my mountain of craft projects by the fan.)

Or this one:

(or this one with stickers everywhere and cords dragged across the floor.)

Ugh, we pick up everyday and I do a thorough cleaning every Wednesday. But that cleaning seems to be taking longer and longer. In addition to the changes in Maddie's toys (more things with smaller pieces!), we just seem to have hit a point where everything needs reorganizing.

I'm not really a person who ever has a finished look to my home. I just never seem to have any budget for decorating, but I could certainly stand to pull it together.

Even though winter has just now reached us, I'm deeming it Spring Cleaning season. Have you ever heard of Clover Lane's 40 Bags in 40 days? Oh, I am tempted. Seriously tempted.

While I'm not sure how much I'll purge, I will be organizing and cleaning. Here's my first draft of my list:

I'm going to be busy all season long. But if I can open my kitchen drawer without cursing, it will all be worth it. Guess I need to add kitchen drawers to that list.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When Pigasso met Mootisse

***I chose this blog title only because Maddie has an obsession with that book and I have read it at least 30 times in the past week.

It's amazing to me what a difference a year makes. Last February I took a bunch of photos of Maddie coloring, something relatively new to her back then. This February I'm noticing so many changes in her artistic styles.

But first a look back. I must say, I've never shared these photos on the blog because I always thought I was going to do a new header with them. I still in my head keep thinking, well these pictures aren't really that old. Um, they're from January 2011. Ugh.These are some of my absolute favorite pictures of Maddie that I have taken yet.

*Back then, Maddie colored on construction paper, doing a lot of left/right switching. She loved to peel her crayons (much to my dismay -- Why ruin a perfectly lovely crayon?!?) If she couldn't peel the crayon by herself, she would hold it out and yell "Uh!" so that we would peel it for her. And there was a lot of huge scribbles, mostly of one color only.

This is my favorite photo ever. Not only do I love the pigtails (which she won't let me do any more) but I love what I call the "What did you say to me?" look on her face:

This child is awesome.

Flash forward one whole year and our art has really progressed to the princess phase.

Watercolor painting is a big hit around here. Maddie's not a big fan of showing off her art though.

Instead of the tough kid with the attitude that matches her pigtails, she's now quite the lady. She much prefers dresses and tutus to anything else and is very dainty as she does her art work.

In fact, here she is kicking up her back leg as she reaches for her markers. On the right, she's showing off her art work, which I know is a bit blurry, but boy oh boy, look at that cute girl!

Now then, the art itself, welllll.... A picture is worth a thousand words.

There's a lot of princess coloring books around here. As soon as we get one, she has me tear out every single page, so we always have a million papers floating around the living room. Then she colors them with markers. If she colors them herself (Big IF), she color blocks them. She's actually very good and staying in the lines or close to the lines. Often she'll have me color for her and delegate: "Mommy, color her arm green!" Usually I'll be coloring one and she'll add some final touches. Rob and I are a bit scared by her need to color everyone's eyes green or red and black our Snow White's mouth. Scary!

She's trying to teach Rob a thing or two, but we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Day In My Life

I recently encouraged a friend of mine to write a day in the life post. Then it dawned on me that I've never done one and it might be interesting to look back on some day. No time like the present, right?

6:50 am - After a pretty rocky night of sleep (staying up late and then Maddie waking up and not going back to sleep until 1 am!), I hear faint calls of "Moooommmy!" But it's hot in our apartment and I'm pretty awake by that time, so I get up and get Maddie. This would be an unusual part of our day -- usually Rob is the morning shift and is up way earlier than I am, but I woke him up at 1 am to take a Maddie shift and be the "cooler" (Don't know that term? You should really watch Las Vegas.)

7 ish - Maddie heads to the couch with her nu-nu and duck and kitty. She may be up but she's not really raring to go.

7:50 am - I head to the kitchen make breakfast. Maddie takes this as her cue to sit at the dining room table, despite no food being ready yet. Breakfast is simple and pretty routine: oatmeal, banana, strawberries and cheerios with milk. I just eat the cereal and some banana. Then we play the vitamin game. Maddie loves her princess vitamins, but she likes to know what princess the vitamin is and Rob and I just can't tell. Last week Rob told her to guess which princess and she said, "Miko!" so that what we've been going with. Today she asks for Jasmine and then makes me try to explain where Jasmine's face is on this completely indistinguishable lump of gummy.

8:30 am - After spilling coffee on a quilt (don't worry Mom, I got it out) and Rob and myself, it's time to get dressed. Rob's on his way to work and I get the joy of unveiling my latest craft project for Maddie - her new play house. I play with Maddie for a while (surely, this is exercise, right? I'm crawling underneath a table navigating table legs and tight spaces while developing a crink in my neck... that counts!) I photograph for a blog post about the house while she somehow finds a million things to use to "decorate" or as she says "bring to work" -- she keeps calling the house her carriage.

9 am - While Maddie's occupied I've spent a chunk of time on the phone with India trying to get a credit that I richly deserve and made a few work calls. Maddie pretty much plays in the house until lunchtime.

11 am - I tell Maddie I'm about to start lunch -- she runs to the table to sit and wait for me. I put on Sid the Science Kid, one of her favorite tv shows. She's acting a little moody and huggy because she didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I tell her I'm making hot dogs for lunch. She says no. Hmmmmm... grocery day is on Saturday, not too many options around.... I boil some eggs, and pull a chair to the counter so Maddie can help me make egg salad. She LOVES to work the baby mill and mix in the mayo and mustard. Lunch is a success, but I can see we're taking an early nap.

11:30 am - We head back to the living room where Maddie begins to color. Sadly, I'll spend much of the day with my iPhone in hand, checking emails and doing things for work. Maddie colors one picture, and then cuddles up next to me. We head right into a nap (I think it took me five minutes to get her to fall asleep.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Under the Table and Dreaming

When I think back on my childhood, some of my favorite memories have been sitting underneath a card table in the basement or in the back porch of my childhood home. Most of the times I remember involve my mom coming to join me and bringing me graham crackers and frosting left over from one of the cakes she had made. But it really was as simple as that to have fun as a child. Card table = instant play house.

So when I saw this on Pinterest, I thought, "I have got to do that for Maddie." I actually wanted this very pattern, but had some trouble finding it. And then I thought, "eh... I can do that." Please be forewarned this is going to be one of those posts that I mentioned here in my last post.

The final project was my February game for Maddie, as I mentioned in my post Resolutions:

What you'll need:
  • A queen size flat sheet (I recommend cotton and not t-shirt fabric, because uh, that was a mistake)
  • Clear vinyl
  • lots of white felt
  • lots of green felt
  • other felt scraps for decorations
  • velcro

I didn't create a pattern for this; I mostly eyeballed it and used a lot of pins. Here's how you can fake a playhouse tablecloth for a 36x60 dining room table, which is pretty standard, but I'm sure you could try to expand this or shrink it for a different size table.

  • Take a queen size flat sheet and a box of pins. Lay the sheet out on the table upside down (i.e. seams up). Your sheet probably won't reach all the way to the floor on all four sides. I set mine to reach on two sides and started planning a way to cover it all up (stay tuned).
  • Pin a little gather at each of the corners. Working from bottom to top pin the corners all the way down to the floor so as to eliminate all the access fabric.
  • Using a sewing maching, sew along your pins and cut out excess corner fabric.
  • Cut out four vinyl squares of the same size (let's say 18 inches squared). ( I planned for two windows and two doors, but you could add more if you wanted.)
  • Cut out 16 1-inch wide strips of white felt that are the same height + 2 inches as your final windows (get that, so if your vinyl is 18 inches, cut a 1x20 inch strip).
  • Using big stitches (you don't want to put too many holes in your vinyl or sew too close to the edge as it may tear) sew two strips onto each vinyl square to form a t (your window panes).
  • For two vinyl squares, sew a strip around each of the four sides, being careful to stay towards the center of the strip. These will be your windows.
  • [Here comes an eyeball-it part] Cut out two large white felt rectangles: Measure from the floor to about 2 inches below your table top and use this as your height. Add four inches to the width of your vinyl square and use this as your width. These will be your house doors.
  • Cut windows into your house doors (you can either measure everything out, or like I did, lay the vinyl on top and cut around them).
  • Sew in your vinyl squares.
  • [Here comes a HUGE eyeball-it part] Pin your windows and doors where you would like them and cut out holes in the house walls giving yourself a good inch of fabric to hem for every hole. (Ok, you could also just measure everything out, but be brave!)
  • Pin your hems and get sewing.
  • Sew your windows and doors as you had pinned, sewing only along the top edge. Doors will lift for your child (or you, I guess!) to enter) and windows will roll up to allow air.

  • Cut four 1x3 inch strips of white felt and 2 1-inch sections of velcro. Sew a piece of velcro to each strip.
  • Sew these strips to the center of each window, velcro facing in. This will allow you to roll up the window and fasten them.
  • Cut strips of green felt to equal the gap between your tablecloth and the floor. I was able to take a package of green felt and cut it into four equal strips and then just string them together, sewing around the bottom of the tablecloth.
  • Then comes the fun part -- I used a package of felt flower and ladybug stickers I found at the Michael's felt aisle. I also cut out numbers out of felt and sewed them to the front door (Maddie seems to think that 6-7-8 is one number, so that's what I picked.)

That's it! It seems like a lot when you see the steps, but really I did this a little bit at a time each night.

Maddie's already had her first visitor, Black Cat.

She so far is loving it, though there seems to be some confusion. Maddie goes inside and says, "I'm going to work. This is my car." and then proceeds to pretend to drive. Ah, well, at least it's fun. I'm sure you've noticed from these pictures that Maddie already has a library, a farm and a piano in her house. Not too shabby for a new homeowner.