Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm not sure how it all came about, but the other day I asked E to put out her little fists, and I did "One Potato, Two Potato." She really liked the "you're out!" part, so I kept going and going and going. As we played, I could picture the schoolyard at George Washington Elementary School, and I started remembering all the rhymes that went along with picking "it."

One potato, two potato,
Three potato, four.
Five potato, six potato,
Seven potato, more.

Bubble gum, bubble gum
In a dish.
How many pieces
Do you wish?

Eenie meanie miney moe,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers let him go.
Eenie meanie miney moe. (To that one, E commented, "I'll be Moe!")

A bottle of ink.
The cap fell off
And you stink.

My mother and your mother
Hanging the clothes.
My mother punched your mother
Right in the nose.
What color blood came out?

Ahh, the good old days.


After completing number 2 on the potty this evening, E peered into the toilet and proclaimed...

"Ohh. That looks like an apple. With a stem on it." And the funny thing is, that's exactly what it looked like.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Powerful Dreams

If you know me, you know I'm a in, I dream almost every night, very vividly, very strangely, and in color. I've had all the classics, from forgetting my lines on stage to flying in space to losing my teeth. In the better ones, I see and interact with the people I love, and sometimes I can control exactly what happens (lucid dreaming). I don't usually think of dreams as giving me signs, though. Actually, I'm a little nervous about posting this, because you, reader, friend, might think I'm a little wonky (if you don't think so already).

On Monday at work, I came to my office and found a student perusing the "stuff" posted on my door. I have a few little sayings, some pictures, nothing too profound. I asked him if he was waiting for me and he said "No, just looking." Early this morning (Wednesday) I awoke and remembered a short dream I'd had about, oddly enough, my office door. In the dream, I wrote "You are powerful" on a piece of paper and taped it up with the other decorations. It made total sense to me that someone might see that and get a little boost of I did it.

I'm guessing I will never know whether anybody else even notices, but I will see it every day on my way in. Come to think of it, maybe the sign is not for the world after all....maybe it's for me! I am powerful.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Unplugged - Painting With Marbles

I had been wanting to do shoe-box and marble painting for a while, so it was good to see that this week's Unplugged Project theme was "ball". The gist of it is that you put a piece of paper into a shoebox with a glop of paint and a marble, close the top and shake. The shoebox part seemed a little risky, what with the possibility of paint-laden marble flying across the room. So I thought I would experiment with some more toddler-friendly possibilities.
Our first try was with a shampoo in, curl up a piece of paper and jam it in, squirt in some paint, plop in a marble, and screw the top on. My theory was that there would be no risk of projectiles. I was right, and the painting turned out pretty good, but I failed to anticipate how difficult it would be to pull the paper out. Basically, I shredded it. So on our next try, we used a wide-topped deli container and heavier paper. Note that for this to work, the paint really has to be quite thick...watery paint is not picked up by the marbles. E loved squirting out the paint, but she was a little under the weather and didn't take to the bottle shaking like I thought she would.
In the end, my favorite product was the deli container with leftover paint in it! I even squirted a little more paint in and rolled the marbles around to coat the entire inside. I don't know what we'll do with it, because the paint will probably peel off pretty easily, but maybe it could be a paintbrush holder for our "art corner"!
Today was also our first "Crafty Critters Club" meeting (that is, toddlers at a table for 15 minutes with craft supplies), so afterwards we played a (very short) game of laundry basket ball to go along with the theme. Below, E's friend W doesn't need much coaxing to throw a ball! In future meetings, I hope to incorporate the Unplugged Theme to a larger extent. Thanks for the motivation, and all the good ideas!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Times They Are A'Changing

The other day I entered E's bedroom to find the rail from the side of her bed laying on the floor. I asked her if she had taken it off, and she said, "Daddy took it off." M came in and told me that he thought it was time...I admit I had my doubts. She is a restless sleeper and we sometimes find her out of the covers, flipped upside down, with her head down by where her feet should be. I was sure I'd find her in the morning sleeping on the floor, or even under the bed.

But my baby girl is so not a baby...she didn't fall out of bed. Instead, the next morning she woke up, opened her door, and went to the bathroom. By herself. Okay, she didn't wipe. But still.

A half hour later, I was changing Baby m's diaper, and I asked E to throw it away. She usually loves to help with these chores, but that morning she was too busy with her chocolate milk. Much to my surprise, Baby m stood up, picked up his diaper, and walked away with it. I peeked around the corner and saw him proudly place it in the diaper pail! He looked back at me and smiled, then did a little happy dance.

Everybody told me how fast baby-hood flies by you, but I wasn't prepared for this. Sniff, sniff.

Monday, January 19, 2009

We Are Unplugged Family

A few weeks ago we did a balancing butterfly for our Unplugged Orange project. Everybody LOVED it, and I was immediately obsessed with finding other animals that would balance on the tip of your finger. The one that I couldn't let go was "Balancing Lobster." So, I was very excited that Unplugged Mama picked "balance" as the theme for this week!

A quick google search yielded some clip art lobsters that were almost right, so I printed one and took some creative license to turn it into a template for our project. Maybe it was wishful lobster thinking, but a good chunk of my New York family was in town this weekend for a Michigan State basketball game (go State!) so I printed out about a dozen crustaceans. E went running around the house collecting cousins and other relatives to participate.
It was an Unplugged Miracle. Two toddlers and seven grown-ups grabbing crayons, sharing scissors, fighting over tape. Even my brother (below, the big guy on the left), who I've never seen draw so much as a stick figure, used every crayon in the box to create a sort of psychedelic effect.
After we were done coloring and cutting, we taped pennies to the claws and set the lobsters up for display. It turns out you can balance them on just about anything, including magic markers, noses, chairs, table corners, and chandeliers.

It's always nice when my family comes to town...of course one presence at the table was sorely missed, my sister. She would have been first in line for a lobster and a crayon. But I know she would be happy to see us together, playing games, eating good food, laughing and enjoying eachother's company. We are family! :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Unplugged - Square Art

The theme this week inspired us to look into famous "square" artists. Picasso was the first to come to mind (think Cubism), but the lovely book called Math-terpieces reminded us that Mondrian was also quite angular. The book is meant to introduce mathematical sets to older kids, but the examples of art pieces and accompanying poems were perfect for E.

We read the book together on Friday night, then tried our hand at abstract art on Saturday. I gave E a little canvas and some blue masking tape cut into thin strips. We looked at the example in the book, and E used the tape to mask off squares, sort of. Then I gave her just the primary colors to work with, and if you know E, you know that she promptly combined them all into some unnamed shade between purple and brown. She painted happily, though, and was pretty proud of herself. I wasn't sure she knew that we were using the book for inspiration, until she commented, "Mommy, he left some of his picture white." :)
Then on Sunday, we tried to imitate Picasso, sort of. I cut some pieces of random faces and some angular shapes out of magazines, and gave E another canvas. This time, she pieced together some Cube-ish faces, and seemed to approach it as sort of a puzzle. She did not mind that the eyes didn't match, or that parts were facing different directions. I wonder how long that freedom of expression will last!I think these activities would be great for a variety of ages...E certainly did entertain me with her uninhibited comments! When I told her how Jackson Pollock would throw the paint around, she said, "He shouldn't do that." The only thing she found odd about the Picasso (a woman with eyes facing two different directions) was that he didn't paint a ceiling in that picture. I asked her what Dali's clocks were doing, and she said, "Ticking." Duh. But she saved the best for last...Andy Warhol, according to E, did not paint soup cans, he painted beer cans. Um, file that one under seriously questionable parenting.

The Eagle Has Landed

And by "the eagle", I mean pee. And poop. In the potty. Yay.

I didn't believe experienced parents when they told me how difficult potty training could be. But holy cow. Over the past year, we have had countless false starts, tantrums, disappointments and "missed opportunities." As of today, E says she is a big girl and for the most part she is. We only had one accident yesterday, and that involved number be expected, I hear.

In the hopes of helping another mother, I have compiled a short list of unsolicited advice:
  1. If you push your child too hard to use the potty, you will end up very frustrated. The truth is, they are in charge of the decision making. Don't fool yourself into thinking you have any control.
  2. If you plan to use candy corn as a bribe, be prepared to give out about a million of them in the first few days. A kid who's used to peeing in a diaper at any time of day will NEED to use the bathroom over and over and over and over...
  3. Watch will probably need to do the "grab and run" a few times a day. And by the time you arrive at your destination, your toddler will be too flustered to perform.
  4. Don't be too enthusiastic with your praise. Otherwise your little one will ask you "Are you so proud of me?" after every bathroom visit. Yes, we are proud, but should we be potty training her just to make us happy??? Uh.
  5. Don't use shame either. When accidents happen, you don't want to hear, "Mommy, is kindergarten going to be mad at me?"
  6. At 3 in the morning, when your toddler calls you to use the bathroom, forgive yourself for thinking, "Why are we doing this? Diapers are soooo much easier."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Unplugged - Orange

This week we successfully accomplished TWO Unplugged Projects for the "Orange" theme. I guess that's what happens when everyone is off work and the weather outside is frightful.

Project 1: "Nothing Rhymes with Orange"
When I read the theme, I couldn't get the phrase out of my we did a rhyming activity. E will be 3 in March, so I figured she was up for some rhyming flashcards. I downloaded a rhyme matching game from the web, and some pretty little flashcards. I printed them in color and laminated them with contact paper.

The game went over well, and she now knows that yes, parrot rhymes with carrot. But she calls the wizard a witch and the jeep a car, which leaves "lizard" and "sheep" without a place on the board. Oh well. We tried again a few days later and the cards all turned to money, and E was trying to buy chocolate from Daddy. Maybe she's not a poet yet, but she IS creative!

Project 2: Balancing Butterflies
When we went out to visit cousins J and L, we did another orange project that was a little more hands-on. The first orange thing I could think of was a monarch butterfly, and I quickly found this awesome balancing butterfly project on the Minnesota Science museum website. I printed out some butterflies for the kids to color, and a few monarch pics in case they actually wanted to make their butterflies orange.

After they were colored, I cut them out and the kids taped pennies on the underside of the wing tips. The effect is really cool. Below, cousin L is showing off her creation, and my husband is demonstrating with E's finished product. As you can see, the "orange" part was marginal at best. Cousin J did a wonderful replica of a monarch, though!

It was really simple, but would work for a wide variety of ages. The other cool thing is that once you get the proportions, you could make lots of other things balance in the same way...a clown, maybe, or even a lobster with big claws. Incidentally, I actually tried a quick version of a lobster and it worked perfectly! I won't show you yet, though, because he may show up on another "Unplugged" posting! Thanks for another inspiring week.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Strange Conversations

E is full of interesting conversation these days. Her vocabulary is huge, and she just loves to engage people on ANY topic...and I mean this girl will talk about anything. She does know the difference between pretend and reality, but she will mix them willy-nilly without telling you which is which.

This is a word for word transcript of what she said to me yesterday afternoon...actually she said it half to me and half to herself, and she sang some of it.

E: My toe hurts. It's slivered and scattered.
Me: Really? That sounds bad.
E: Then I got a ouchy. That's how it cracked ouchy-ess. It's blooding out.
Me: Oh, my!
E: That's how the team works. You just talk about it. (Singing) It's in my toe, it's in my toe! It's tired. Have you ever seen a bear? Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?

Translation, please...anybody?

Then today my little Baby m started acting like a big boy. He now signs milk, more, fish, finished, and please. Earlier in the day he said his first sentence...shut up, I'm counting it as a sentence. When I went into his room after his nap, he looked at me and said, "Uh-oh." Then he very purposefully pointed to his chuchi laying on the floor. I translated it as "Mommy? I dropped my chuchi. Can you please get it for me?" And he's only just a year old! :)
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr