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Category: 4 yr old

My Sensitive Boy

In the Velveteen Rabbit, the rabbit talked to the old horse and learned what it meant to be real. The rabbit enjoyed the burrows the boy made for him under the bedding, being squeezed almost too tight at night…the rabbit was real, to himself and to The Boy.

In our home we have several dearly loved lovies. Baby Jaguar was real almost the moment he went into Sweet Pea’s arms. Sweet Pea moves him in such a way as to almost convince you his lovie is looking at you intriguingly, or beseeching ‘please, don’t let him strangle me yet again’.

Baby Jaguar took quite a hit Saturday night. Sweet Pea was tossing and swinging him around just like every other night having fun and squealing to prove it. But the floor met Baby Jaguar’s eye and his eye remained on the floor. It broke right off and lay there looking up at us. Suddenly there was silence and a look on Sweet Pea’s face that I never saw before. I reassured him we could fix it, he dutifully started brushing his teeth and then reality set in and the screaming crying began. Can you relate?

Sweet Pea must have cried for a good half hour. In that time he managed to say he hurt because he hurt Baby Jaguar. To him, Baby Jaguar is very real, something to be protected. To me I could see just how much sadness was in his heart having hurt something (someone) he loved so dearly.

Sweet Pea hurts so easily when others hurt him and almost always says ‘I’m sorry’ very sincerely when it was someone else who hurt him, as if he’s sorry the person is supposed to feel bad about what they did.

I would love for my boy to somehow grow up holding onto this sensitivity, yet combining it with strength, courage, leadership…to grow up protecting those he loves.

Miniature Horses

Cutie Pie got to take a ride on a cart driven by a miniature horse, Shooter. What an awesome experience for a preschooler!


There is a mini horse farm up the road from my dad’s house. We made sure to take the boys up to see them one visit. We had no idea their owner would be out with one getting some practice for an upcoming show. The gentleman, a friend of my dad’s, invited Cutie Pie to take a ride with him! He wasn’t sure at first, but quickly agreed.

While Cutie Pie enjoyed his ride, Aunt Lisa, Hubby and I talked with Sweet Pea about the miniature horses, what they eat, how tall they are, how strong they are. He didn’t talk much, but it was obvious later that it was because he was so intrigued with them!

When Cutie Pie returned he was elated! He’s very excited to visit the horses again!

Nature Ride

We took a quick ride around the block on our bikes the other day. I should say it was intended to be a quick ride, just to tire out the boys, however, it took a lot longer than we thought!

Cutie Pie had a great time stopping quite often and picking things up for his ‘collection’! He was very proud to be making a collection and was very excited to investigate everything with his magnifying glass when he got home!

When we got home we put his collection on a large tray and examined each item with a magnifying glass. He talked about the details he noticed, like a twig with a leaf and the different points on a stick. Hubby then got out Cutie Pie’s ‘journal’ and suggested he draw pictures of what he observed. It was really neat watching him draw, something he doesn’t seem to like to do, and then to hear him tell Hubby about his drawings (think Sid the Science Kid Super Fab Lab).

He made some excellent observations! He drew pictures about the colors of the leaves, lines representing how many points on the end of the stick, even a small and large head, which were supposed to be me as he saw me with his eyes and with the magnifying glass!

It’s so fun to see little changes, extensions of his interest since starting Pre-K! What kinds of changes have you realized in your child lately?

Color Game (repost)

This is a repost of a simple color game! Since this was posted last year we’ve played this game in stores with black and white floors, too!

Our church basement has a color pattern on the floor. One Sunday I was delayed after church and they were getting antsy. I found them playing a game that Hubby had created.

He’d call out a color and the boys would have to jump to it touching as few other colors as possible. They had a blast and wanted to play again the following Sunday. I love simple games that keep our boys occupied!

Orchestra at Mom’s Club

My MOM’s club invited Hubby and a group of students to come play for our recent MOMs club holiday dinner. They also held a ‘petting zoo’ for the children when they were done entertaining us! This was a neat opportunity for both the children attending and those playing.

Cutie Pie and Sweet Pea helped Hubby out before the event by going to each child in the orchestra to see how their instrument worked. Each orchestral student was very patient while letting them strung the strings and draw the bow across the strings, and they were all open to suggestions from Hubby as to how to relate to the little ones.

After our delicious dinner and entertainment provided by these talented 5th graders, the little ones in MOM’s club got to walk around to each student and try their instruments ~ the violin, viola, cello and bass. Both groups of kids did great! There was no bickering, no pulling needlessly on strings, everyone was so well behaved! The parents seemed to have a great time, too, and I think it might have been a new experience for some of them as well! (coordination, concentration, gross motor, fine motor, social skills)

It isn’t every day that children preschool age and younger get to try out an instrument and even more infrequent to find them getting their hands on a stringed instrument with permission!

What instruments do you have in your home? Any budding musicians out there?

I only posted one picture because I wanted to protect the privacy of other children at the event, but I assure you there were many smiling kids checking out the instruments!

Very Cool Park (that I should have posted sooner)

I’ve been finding a lot of old posts that never made it out of draft status. Thought this nice sunny, warm weather one would be welcome about now!

My friend told me about a new park on the other side of town (in early summer!) If you are in the Rochester, NY area I recommend checking out the Abe Lincoln Park on Empire, near Bay Road in Webster (or is it Penfield?) This park really surprised me. From the road you see the same basic plastic play structures, but when you get out and explore you see two clearly defined playing areas. I wish I was able to get more pictures of the plastic play area, because it incorporated some neat ideas, but I was so taken with the natural climbing area, I mostly took pictures of the boys there.

Here are some photos:


I was told there was an old house on the property and I’m told the trees that were felled from taking the home down were secured to the ground to be used as a natural climbing area. You can see the boys love it! Check out their balancing skills! That takes a lot of coordination and concentration!


There are a couple of tall tree trunks let standing, but hollowed out with peep holes created in the side and steps carved in as well. These make great forts and hideouts! Cutie Pie loved peeking out to watch us adults talk.


My friend’s son had been to this park before and had hidden a few sticks to play with again. I thought this was a really cute photo of the boys exploring a drain near his stick hiding place. (People at church sometimes think they are all brothers!)


I love that there are little hiding spaces built in to the climbing logs!


The boys were really having fun! This is definitely a park we will explore again. We didn’t even start to explore the path down to the bay!


This is the only picture that came out of the plastic play area. My boys really loved this area, too. One of the structures was shaped to reflect a train, complete with train whistle! Another structure included a twisty slide with big plastic bongo drums underneath it as well as a couple other things you don’t find on many playgrounds.


Like I said before, if you live around here you should give this park a try! It is worth a visit! And if you don’t live around here, maybe pass these ideas on to your parks and recreation department!

We have been here several times since I drafted this post and each time my boys had a blast. They absolutely love climbing all over the logs, under them, around them…they are so intrigued! Even now, with it being 40 degrees out, they are asking to go back!

First School Field Trip

Crazy about the wagons
Getting ready to sit and listen

Sweet Pea and I were able to join Cutie Pie for his first field trip this past fall. (Yes, I know, posting about it fell through the cracks somehow.) We went to Wickham Farms (the place with the big bouncy pillow I sometimes mention) with his class from Pre-K. It was so neat to see him get off the bus after his first bus ride and watch him walk hand-in-hand with his school buddy, L. They were the only two boys holding hands, and the only ones following the rules! They sat nicely for the show-and-tell about how pumpkins grow, walked nicely to the next “station” together and just generally looked like best buds!

Checking out the bunnies
Look at this big punkin, Mommy!

Sweet Pea and I had a lot of fun, too, being their shadows, although at times Sweet Pea’s attention ran in many different directions which took us off to see the goats, the jumping pillow, the pumpkin hut and back again dodging the other school groups that were also there. It was so much fun to be the fly on the wall and see how Cutie Pie responds to his classmates and teachers! He was such a good boy! (And hardly even paid any attention to us, which was good in a way, but it would have been nice if he had wanted to walk with us like the other children were with their parents!)

It’s such a treat to watch my big boy under his teacher’s care. I could sort of sit back and take it all in, seeing him from a totally different perspective!

Trio Gears Review

Sweet Pea also received Fisher-Price Trio Gears for his birthday. Cutie Pie absolutely loves them and has sort of claimed them as his own! Sweet Pea doesn’t seem to mind that much, though. Since they are loved I thought I’d share my review of them, like last week’s built it review, just in case you need inspiration for yet another toy for your child!

Have you seen or played with Fisher-Price Trios? They are heavy duty plastic cubes that are made to clip together. There are holes on each side to allow the assortment of accessories to be attached in various ways. The basic set comes with the simple pieces and a great pamphlet of building ideas. The theme sets come with the fun accessories (like eyes and rods that can be used like arms) and the instructional pamphlet of ideas, all of which are clearly explained with step by step pictures. Trios are generally recommended for children age 3+. I have found that a three year old needs help clipping them together in addition to following the instructions, but Cutie Pie (at 5yrs old) requires help mostly with deciding what to build (because there are so many choices), how to get started and making sure the accessories are pushed in tight enough. I’m imagining an 8 year old would still have fun with this toy with a lot less adult intervention.

Finishing touches
In action

The Gears set has been a really fun addition to our other sets of Fisher-Price Trios. (We have the fire department set, the crane construction set and the basic set.) Cutie Pie was anxious to get them out of the box and play with them before Sweet Pea even realized what they were! The Gears are traditional Trios, but with a simple gear attached to some of the single cubes (you can also find several cubes attached together to make building a little more simple in sets of Trios) and several big gears as well as accessories like a propeller. You assemble different toys by connecting the gears in a certain way, rotating the handle shaped gear and the gears work together to move! Cutie Pie gets so excited when we finally finish his creations and they work just like he hypothesized they would!

Cutie Pie loves to count (like I said in at least one past post) and when he plays with Trios its the same ~ he follows the picture directions and counts the number of cubes of each type as well as counts how many cubes should be attached together when finding a longer piece. He also loves to describe what he wants to make (when he has the idea) as well as how he thinks it will move (if he’s using Gears). He seems to love the process of building with Trios! (science, coordination, fine motor, concentration, predicting, sequencing, comparing, math, creativity)

The only thing I wish to change about all Trios is that sometimes they come apart a little too easy. I’m sure this is because they have to fit together snug enough to hold, but not too snug or little fingers would have a hard time fitting them together. We can live with this as often Cutie Pie will attach what fell off somewhere else and make a new creation!

To put how we feel about Fisher-Price Trios Gears simply:

  • Pros: fun, simple, heavy duty, clear picture directions, colorful, educational (science, logic, math)
  • Cons: sometimes not tight enough connection between pieces, adult help may be needed for younger children (if this is something not desired it makes it a con, otherwise it would be a great child-parent activity!)

If you are looking for a Christmas or birthday toy for a child between the ages of 3 and 8 I would definitely recommend Trios! For the older child in this age range I would recommend the Trios Gears for additional imaginative play!

Fisher-Price has in no way provided compensation for this review. This review consists of honest opinions of my family and myself and has in no way been influenced by Fisher-Price or it’s affiliates.

Little Shepherd – Book Review

Do you love the Christmas story as much as me and my family do, but are sometimes wishing your children could hear it from another perspective? Little Shepherd is just the book for your little ones to see it through the eyes of someone their own age!

The synopsis:

Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior’s birth. Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?

This lovely Christmas (anytime) book called Little Shepherd, by Cheryl Malandrinos was given to us to review as part of her My Pump Up Your Book virtual tour. I’m so glad she sent it to us to review!

Immediately my 4 (just about 5) year old was taken with the title, Little Shepherd, and the cover illustration of a young boy standing over a flock of sheep with an angel behind him. Cutie Pie loves all sorts of books, but I think he particularly is taken by the hand illustrated ones we have. Eugene Ruble’s artwork throughout this book really captured Cutie Pie’s attention and I think made the story more real as it captured the character’s feelings so well in print. Sweet Pea, my 3 year old, couldn’t take his eyes off the illustrations either and pointed out lots of details on each page.

We began to read and we discovered this story was about a fictional 5 year old boy, Obed, in charge of tending a flock of sheep for his father. Cutie Pie really perked up, since it was about a boy his age and I could tell he was falling in love with this book about Jesus’ birth. As we continued reading about Obed, who got to see Baby Jesus, Cutie Pie was even more enamored with this story, but was also hearing about how God protects us and things He loves. (Later we were talking and I discovered he loved hearing about a boy his age who had his own flock of sheep to take care of. Must be why he asked me to read this book to him over and over again!)

Can Obed trust his sheep on the pasture while he and his father go see the newborn baby Jesus? You just have to pick up the book and discover for yourself! I can tell you that this book reveals, once again, that God takes care of all the details to His satisfaction even when we worry, we just don’t always understand how!

Please go to Amazon or Guardian Angel Publishing to purchase this book. You may also want to check out the author’s blog to read more!


Thank you, Ms. Malandrinos, for the privilege of reviewing this book and highly recommending it for those looking for a story about Jesus birth that is from a child’s point of view! This is a great addition to our collection of Christmas stories, but will be kept out throughout the year, too!

Little Shepherd was provided to my family in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was offered or accepted in exchange for a positive review. All opinions shared regarding this book are my own or my family’s and in no way swayed by the receipt of this book for review.

Shadow Play

Remember the centerpiece my mom and I made for Levi’s party using Mom’s Cricut? I planned on doing something fun with the pieces when we made them and the boys loved my idea, shadow play, the other night!

Have you ever made shadows on the wall with your hand? Our shadow play in this post is very similar. 
I took the engines (with the sticks still attached) and held them between a flashlight and the wall. We talked about how shadows are made by placing an object between a light source and whatever the light is hitting. Then we experimented making their engine shadows with other light sources and they discovered which made better shadows. (science, sensory, coordination)
They really liked this type of shadow play, even following my directions and kneeling to make their engines run along the back of the couch without their heads getting in the way. I think next time we pull these out I might try draping a tablecloth between a couple of chairs and taking turns sitting in front of it while the others have their engines between the light source and the cloth!
Have you used a scrap booking or stamping tool for fun or learning with your kiddos? I’d love to be inspired! Please share!

Counting or Adding?

Cutie Pie has been counting on his own a lot lately, even counting up to almost 20! If that’s not enough, Hubby took him on a grocery store run the other day and was surprised when Cutie Pie started adding all on his own!

Their task was to get five different nachos (bags of tortilla chips, really) for Sweet Pea’s birthday party, but we already had one bag at home. Cutie Pie reminded Hubby that they needed five bags when only four ended up in the cart. Hubby reminded him again that we had one bag at home. He then put up one finger, saying that was for the bag at home and counted to four while putting each finger up on the rest of the hand as Hubby placed each bag in the cart.

I guess the way to get Cutie Pie to count is to give him a task that is VERY important to him!

Train Station Field Trip

Sweet Pea was in his glory the day we visited The Utica Children’s Museum because the train station was right next door! Cutie Pie was pretty excited, too, and when Grampa asked if they wanted to see the trains and a real train station it was like they won the lottery!
Outside of the train station is a big, old steam engine. The boys were so excited to see this, but when we walked up to it and heard the train sound they could have cared less about it!
A train with three diesel engines started past and they were mesmerized! 
Three engines can only mean one thing…a very long, heavy train! Talk about excited! The boys hardly moved the entire time the train was going by. It was so neat to hear them talking about the parts of the train, the types of cars going by, just sharing all of their train knowledge with their Grampa!
The inside of the train station was just as I’d always imagined a train station to look, except with a farmer’s market going on. The boys kept looking up and all around them, commenting on the tall ceilings and asking why their were windows in the ceiling! 
This train station seems pretty old with the marble pillars, arches and other traditional train station architecture. The boys just kept looking around, asking who was going on the next train and all sorts of other questions about what the building is used for and where all the doors lead! 
I doubt we would visit the train station here, simply because friends and family tend to drive to visit us and there really isn’t anything near the station that would bring us to visit it. That said, I’m so glad the boys got to see this train station when we did. We happened to get to see some Menonites just after they disembarked their train as well as some at one of the farmer’s market booths. I’m always wondering what sort of questions my boys will ask when they see people who are “different” than they see themselves. In this case they simply noticed they were wearing black and that they had big hats! This gave me another great opportunity to talk with my boys about different cultures and what we can all learn from each other.

Utica Children’s Museum – Review (revise with updated info)

Grandpa has been wanting to take the boys to the Utica Children’s Museum for a while now and our visit this past weekend was the perfect opportunity to go. We had a beautiful, sunny day to drive there and it afforded us the chance to see some trains as well, since it is across the street from the train station (much to Sweet Pea’s delight!) Being regular visitors to The Strong National Museum of Play here in Rochester I wasn’t quite sure what the boys would think and was hoping it was going to be fun for them. Boy, I had nothing to worry about! They didn’t want to leave!

Now, I have to say The Strong is a fabulous children’s museum, with grand funding from a variety of sources as well as recipients of grants and therefore is the wonderful place that it is for kids. The Utica Children’s Museum doesn’t receive funding of this magnitude, if at all (I talked with the wonderfully nice woman who runs it with her husband, but cannot honestly remember if they receive outside funds, but I know she said they don’t receive anywhere near what The Strong does.*Revision: I heard from the director of Utica’s Children’s Museum and she made this comment: We don’t receive any operating funds from the City, County, State, or Federal governments, relying wholly on our visitors, field trips, and sponsors of our annual Fundraising event, held every year the 3rd week of November.) That said, you can see some of the lack of funding in the quality of some of the exhibits (which I know they are working on!) However, I hope you don’t hold that against them…this is definitely a children’s museum worth visiting! You can check here for the City of Utica says about the museum.

This entire museum is kid-friendly and just about everything is hands-on and packed with sneaky learning opportunities. Everything is at kid level and some of the experiential rooms are even built to kid-size, so watch your heads if you go into the grocery store or into the lab to learn about germs!

As you walk into the first floor you are greeted with a variety of hands-on areas. In the center of the room you’ll find a working traffic light, a gravity experiment with a ping-pong ball, a light board that works by flipping switches to create a picture and a few other things just as attractive to little hands. My boys, of course, spent a long time at the plastic Thomas train table which was located just outside of a few experiential rooms. A few of these had themes like eating healthy, set up like a small grocery store, a room with a microscope decorated with germs that teaches how to keep germs at bay and at the end of the kid-sized rooms was a plastic tube that was a little science experiment in sound. On this floor this was also a very large wooden train for the kiddos to climb all over, located near the exploration area just for beginning walkers.

The second floor housed a great musical hands-on area. There were several marimbas, including one made of 2x4s, one of pipes, and another of wrenches. Up on the stage were several pianos. I loved this area, because the kids loved just making music and checking out the instruments in a whole new light, and they loved having spectators! This floor also housed the dinosaur exploration area (see the pics above). There were a lot of toy dinosaurs set out for the kids to play with as well as a big dinosaur dig pit. In this pit were wooden fossils, each numbered for the older child to assemble a large dinosaur, but also for the little ones just to feel and explore. Cutie Pie loved guessing where the bones he found might go on a skeleton. Grandpa seemed to like the dinosaur puppet theater the most and entertained Cutie Pie by trying to put on a show for Sweet Pea and I!

The third floor had a wide open area with tables and chairs on which a couple of science experiments were taking place while we were there as well as huge tables of Legos, another train table and several bikes of different sizes set up for kids to try. (They were set up as stationary bikes.) There was also a construction pit on this floor, filled with all sort of construction toys, hard hats, safety vests and little pellets of rubber for the kids to use their imaginations! And I can’t forget to mention the nature room which the boys loved! There was a snake, several bones and skeletons which the kiddos could touch and examine with magnifying glasses as well as a turtle, gerbil and bees (in the warmer months). I think it’s important to note students from the local college were in charge of the slime and sensory experiments and they related really well to the kids and had a really good knowledge of what they were sharing with the kids.

The fourth floor won over my boys almost equally as the paleontologist exploration area. This floor housed the model train sets that were donated and recently put on display. The children can step on little gas peddles to get the engines moving and there was a small unit for the sound effects. Sweet Pea could have stayed there all day as there were many trains set aside just for display and he loves looking at trains! Plus there is a small plane that the kiddos can actually climb into and move the instruments. Cutie Pie loved this, even letting the aid close the cockpit so he could get the real experience. This plane was actually flown for 10 years and was donated to the Children’s Museum. What a neat experience!

As you can see (from the length of this post and the multitude of pictures) my children loved their visit to the Utica Children’s Museum. They had some very unique experiences there and have asked several times since for us to go back. Even if you feel your kiddos might be a little too old to visit this museum, check out their school break camps activities- they look pretty interesting! This museum is a wonderful resource for the community it is located in and I truly hope funding finds it’s way to them so they can be around for years to come. It is a museum that is worth the effort to visit for the unique experiences and the sneaky learning through fun activities! (math, science, language, fine motor, gross motor) And remember the added bonus of the train station being right across the street! More on that soon!

This post is the compilation of my family’s experience and opinions after having visited this museum. The Utica Children’s Museum has in no way compensated me for this post or influenced our opinions.

I Beat “The Hill”

The Forecast: Light snow, little to no accumulation

The Task: Drive with the boys to see Grandma and then stay overnight with Grandpa

The Reality: Light snow became huge accumulating snowflakes about 30 minutes from our destination (Grandma’s) and continued for several hours until slowly melting. One warning phone call from Grandpa came in mid afternoon saying “The Hill” was snow-covered. A few hours later the boys and I left Grandma’s, picked up pizza and headed for “The Hill” while the snow around Grandma’s house continued to melt and rain fell all drizzly from the sky.

I approached the road leading up to “The Hill” and started wondering just how much more snow could possibly be up at Grandpa’s house, only 10 minutes away from where we spent the day, all the while remembering being laughed at in junior high school for wearing a winter coat on a spring day (it had been snowing at my house up on “The Hill”). As I turned onto “The Hill” I knew immediately I was in serious trouble as there were only tracks of 2 cars that tried to drive up it ahead of me and no signs of any salt or dirt on the road. Slipping and sliding we headed up, slowly.

A few minutes later I found our little yellow car at the curve that would determine our destiny for the evening. I knew if my driving skills were spot on we’d be enjoying hot pizza with Grandpa. If not we’d be sitting in Grandma’s driveway eating cold pizza and trying to stay warm while keeping two boys entertained waiting for her to return from her date. We had passed that curve by the time the thought finished in my mind.

The Outcome: I shot up a quick prayer to God, “Please let us make it to Grandpas!” The car crawled, spun, crawled, barely moved, the the wheels caught and started to pull us, slowly, spinning. I decided to gun it about 50 feet below Grandpa’s driveway. I thought I was really done for, heading for the drainage ditch, but the car lurched forward and catapulted into the driveway! I hooped and hollered, high fived Cutie Pie, thanked God and looked over to Sweet Pea, who had been awake at the bottom of the hill and saw him sound asleep!

My boys and I quickly then found ourselves inside Grandpa’s house in front of the fireplace with freezing cold feet as a result of walking in the 5″ of wet, soggy snow that had accumulated. The hot pizza was delicious!

Making Fossils

I found a salt bread dough recipe a bit ago that was supposed to be good for making fossils. Cutie Pie and I tried it out one day when it was warmer.

The recipe called for water, flour and salt to be mixed together in one bowl. (I’m not going to share the recipe, because I actually wouldn’t recommend it, even if it were me that got it wrong. It just didn’t seem right for this kind of fossil project.)


It really mixes up like a bread dough, but thicker and heavier.


Can you tell how hard Cutie Pie is working on mixing?!

After the dough was well mixed, we dumped it onto the hard table and kneaded it for a few times, then flattened it with our hands. We then made impressions of our feet and hands!


We baked them according to instructions and when they were cooled the fossil was nice and hard. (But not hard enough for our liking, hence the reason I won’t give you this recipe!)

Cutie Pie had fun placing the fossils around the house and ‘going on a hunt’ for them, pretending he was a paleontologist going out into the field looking for fossils. When he found them he would measure them, to the best of his ability, and take very good care of them pretending to dust the dirt off. He would then spend a few minutes debating what animal could possibly have made these incredibly rare fossils!

I will definitely try this again, but with a different recipe, or maybe even something edible (as long as we use something other than dirty feet to make the fossils!)

Instrument Petting Zoo – Cello

Hubby brought home several instruments for the boys to try over the course of the summer and back in the spring. Most of these instruments were stringed instruments, but of course, he is a string teacher, so that’s what he has the most access to.

Two and a half year old Sweet Pea seems especially enamored with any string instrument, sometimes even trying to sneak into his daddy’s instrument cases when we aren’t looking hoping to get to at least strum the strings before we catch him!

This summer Uncle Craig even got into the act! He’s always wanted to play the cello, so Hubby gave him a short lesson and let him experiment a bit!

Guess How Much

…I Love You.

Cutie Pie and I have read this book many times before and recently he’s started this little guessing game with me before he goes to bed at night. I find this so incredibly special, but the last time we did this I realized he’s really got the concept of the book. He starts out small with something like “Mommy, I love you from the floor to the top of the bed.” Then he gives me a turn and his next statement is even bigger. He got pretty creative several times with things like “I love you from here to the moon and then to France and Paris and back!”

I love my Cutie Pie from here to the moon, the sun, around every planet, then to every country and back. That’s how much I love him!

Strong National Museum of Play Train Day

Last month Hubby and I took the boys to The Strong National Museum of Play Train Day. We took them last year, too, and they loved it! The difference between this year and last was this year Sweet Pea was more mesmerized with the model trains than Cutie Pie!

The Strong does a nice job with this train show each year. Of course, since their audience is mostly children (it is held in a play museum after all) it is rather small, but that is part of the charm! In a large hallway they had a model train set up at which the kiddos could press several buttons and various things would happen on the model, such as logs rolling and containers being sent up a conveyor belt to a train car. Another display in this area was at eye level for the children and was an engine and two train cars on a track. The kiddos were given the controls and the task of coupling the train cars and engine together and making it back to where they started. this consisted of turning a dial to control speed and changing the direction of the train several times. This appeared to be a big attraction!

In a separate room there were several large models set up. The detail of these models was amazing! I never knew how many sizes model trains came in or the amount of money one can spend on scenery alone! The men interacting with the children did a great job talking with them, which is worth mentioning because at some other shows we’ve encountered some who definitely didn’t relate to children.

We had a great time again at this yearx’s train show and are already looking forward to the show in 2012!

Big Boy Skills

Saturday morning Cutie Pie asked me to show him how to button a button on his polo shirt. I took him step by step through the process, kneeling behind him showing him how I do it on one button, had him put his fingers under mine on the next button. (Keep in mind I’m right handed and he favors his left hand, so I wasn’t sure how this would work!)

Sunday morning he wore a button down shirt and he buttoned all of them, saying “I’ll try and try and try again!” He must have tried for about 5 minutes until he had the whole shirt buttoned! Hubby only helped him line the buttons up with the holes!

I actually took a really cute picture of him buttoning up, with a great big smile and twinkle in his eye from accomplishing his task by himself, however it looked like a shot out of little boy GQ, so I refrained from adding it to the post. Trust me, it’s adorable!

Beach Fun

The next town over has a cute little spray park and very small beach on a pond. I took the boys there by myself one morning when we just needed to get out of the house. They had such fun!


The water was nice and shallow, which they loved, and there were no waves, which was a definite plus! They made lots of friends and brought lots of sand home – unintentionally!


This was the first year either of them seemed to like the spray park area. In the past they’ve always splashed in the puddles formed around the park, but not run through the spray like they did this time. It was so fun hearing their squeals!

Color Game

Our church basement has a color pattern on the floor. I had some church nursery business to take care of one Sunday after church when the weather was not good for the boys to play outside and they were getting antsy. I came down to them and Hubby after my meeting and found them playing a game that Hubby had created. 

He’d call out a color and the boys would have to jump to it touching as few other colors as possible. they had a blast and wanted to play again the following Sunday. I love simple games that keep our boys occupied!

Hot cocoa date

With the cooler weather last week the hot cocoa date with Cutie Pie returned! I love this time with Cutie Pie while Sweet Pea is napping, and I didn’t realize just how much I missed it until last week!

Cutie Pie chose “Go Fish” as the game while I made the hot cocoa. It’s so neat playing real games with him now. He used to just want to play by his rules, but since Pre-K has started he’s been actually playing the games, taking turns and everything!

We had a lot of fun playing “Go Fish”, counting, taking turns, practicing holding the cards – what coordination that takes for a little kid! The thing that impressed me the most during our time last week was when Cutie Pie got more excited to put his crackers in a row and count them, and then wanted to compare his line to mine to see whose had more and whose had less in it!

Scavenger Hunt

We have some very creative moms in the MOMs club I belong to. One mom in particular put together a great activity to supplement our open play time at a local playground. This particular play area is on the same grounds with a tennis court, a toddler path, soccer fields, pond and a beautiful garden area.

To begin our play time we had to pick up a treasure map and follow the dotted lines to the clues marked on the map with an X. The map led us all around the park and at each X there was a stamp for our treasure map (so we knew we had been there) and a clue written on a piece of paper. The clues were very cute poems either describing our next destination using descriptions of the surroundings, counting the number of steps to take in a specific direction, or some other super-creative clue. They were also relatively easy for the kiddos to understand and follow, which made it really fun for them in so many ways!

Once we followed all of the clues around bushes, over bridges, and down flowered paths with crazy me taking a ton of pictures, we found ourselves back at the main playground at the treasure chest! The boys each received a gold treasure coin and some Pirate’s Bounty pretzels. Several of the kids pretended they were pirates on ships when they returned to the playground, too! I love that it instigated pretend play!

The boys had so much fun searching for treasure that they often ask me when we are going to go to the park for another one or beg me to make one here at the house! She’s done several other supplemental activities like this and it really does make playground play more exciting!

I really wish I had saved the treasure map from this play time to share with you! Anyway, this activity seemed perfect for Columbus Day! Happy Hunting!

Science and Friends at Grampa’s

Whenever we go to Grampa’s my boys look forward to a few things, two of which are playing in nature and playing with his young neighbor!


Uncle Craig and Aunt Lisa are both into science, too, so my boys were totally in their element with them exploring. One night they went on a creepy crawly search. They found centipedes, potato bugs and salamanders! That’s a salamander in Uncle Craig’s hands (above).


Of course a trip to Grampa’s always includes a fossil hunt. In the above pic Aunt Lisa and Uncle Craig found creepy crawlies, but the boys were checking out the fossils!

Interesting Bug

I remember seeing stick bugs growing up out in the country. They are the most amazingly camouflaged creatures, in my opinion that is! This August when visiting my Dad the boys got to see two up close!


I apologize for the dirty window making this a horrible picture, but this stick bug was seen crawling up my dad’s workshop door. It was a nice sunny spot, and this guy and his friend hung around on the window for several hours a couple of days in a row. We’re thinking it must have been a good hunting spot or they enjoyed the warmth.

The boys were fascinated with these stick bugs, but didn’t stay around long observing them. They were probably too high up and they didn’t move, which made them a little boring to watch! We had great plans of reading about them in our bug book when we got home, but we still haven’t done it. It was great to see them get excited about something they’ve never seen before, though!

Fishing Practice

Hubby and the boys had a date in the backyard with the fishing pole, some line, a roll of tape and the kiddie pool. Simple, fun learning and some serious coordination practice!


The boys had a blast trying to land the roll of tape (which was tied to the end of the line) in the empty kiddie pool! Hubby seemed to have as much fun trying to show the boys how to ‘fish’ as they seemed to have fishing!

Spider

To say my boys were fascinated with this (large and creepy) spider is an understatement! I spied it on one of our outdoor plastic chairs. It just kept crawling around the back of it, back and forth.


The boys didn’t try to pick it up, but they did try to get it to crawl onto a stick, which of course it didn’t do (much to my relief!) I am all for my boys being interested in science and creepy crawlies, but hairy spiders just freak me out!

After watching this spider for at least half an hour, we looked up spiders in our bug book and on the Internet. While outside we observed that this spider was a little hairy, had eight legs and looked like he had bulging eyes. We discovered from the bug book and Internet that spiders have eight legs, two body segments and that they cannot chew. Their legs are attached to the front segment of their body, and they have 48 knees! Also, the hair on their legs pick up vibrations and smells from the air.

All of this is way too much information for me and way more than I could tell my boys about spiders, but the boys loved it! I’m so glad that I can use the Internet as a learning tool with my boys! I’m just worried that I’ll find them trying to dissect one!

Science week at Stay and Play

I came across this great blog called Stay and Play a couple of weeks ago and was very excited to discover this week is science week there! I can’t wait to try everything that’s already been shared with my boys! I encourage you to check it out – science-y stuff for more than just a grade or two to enjoy!

This is just a reflection of an interest of mine (and my boys). It is not a paid advertisement, I am not being compensated in any way other than reaping the benefits of fun science time with my boys!

Watching the Canal Boats

Nana and Papa organized a picnic for everyone in Hubby’s family this summer. It was at a neat park where the kids played on all the equipment, but was also close to the Erie Canal. We walked a little path to get there and found there was a little deck where you can watch the boats go by!


We saw The Colonial Belle, a canal tour boat, a few small canal boats, many kayakers and a lot of bicycle riders! We had the opportunity to talk about boats, water safety, and the canal with the boys which actually was a lot of fun! Maybe next year we’ll take them on a canal cruise!

Happy Anniversary, Nana and Papa!

Fort Rickey

On our visit to Gramma’s we visited a neat children’s petting zoo called Fort Rickey Discovery Zoo, located near Rome, NY. I used to go here as a child, and although it wasn’t exactly like I remember, it brought back a lot of memories!


In the petting area there is animal food available for purchase and you can feed the deer, which you can also feed this food to any hoofed animal in the park. Also in this area is a little pond on which you can take out the paddle boats and feed the fish. In the picture above that’s me, Sweet Pea, another family and a deer watching the fish jump up to practically eat food right out of our hands!

Here are Cutie Pie and his Uncle Craig out on the paddle boat!

There were also goats in the petting area, which Sweet Pea really liked!


Fort Rickey is rather small, but that allows you to spend time checking out each animal, like donkey and goats…


or just jumping into a huge pit of balls in their playground structure!


Sweet Pea really liked feeding the different animals that he was allowed to feed. He also liked the baby goats, although you aren’t really supposed to feed them (they need a sign).

My guys were fascinated getting up close to the animals, and even more tickled that they could feed some! The variety of animals wasn’t that huge, but that was a good thing for us because it got the boys asking some good questions and noticing how the animals we saw were alike and how others were different (think different kinds of deer, a couple of otters, bunnies, turtles and snakes).

I would definitely recommend checking out Fort Rickey if you are in the Rome, NY area. It seemed like just the perfect activity for kids my boy’s ages!

(The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of me and my children. We have received no compensation for this review from Fort Rickey or any other source.)

Bassgiraffe's Thoughts Thursday Blog Hop

Inflating Balloon Experiment

I’ve seen this experiment several places, so I take no responsibility it. We’ve also done this experiment a few times before and each time it gets my boys’ attention. Most recently, I’ve seen this in the book Child’s Play by Leslie Hamilton, listed as Magic Balloon.

You’ll need a balloon, small pop bottle, baking soda, vinegar and a funnel.

Use the funnel to put about 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the balloon. Use it again to put 1 to 2 inches of vinegar into the pop bottle.

Secure the mouth of the balloon to the mouth of the pop bottle by making sure the baking soda is the the bottom of the balloon and then folding the balloon over so the baking soda doesn’t fall into the balloon. Work with only the mouth of the balloon. Yes, I know, this takes some coordination!

Hold onto the balloon tightly while your child lifts the baking soda-filled part of the balloon, letting the baking soda fall into the vinegar.

What happens? Gas is formed by mixing the baking soda (a base) with the vinegar (an acid) and the gas fills the balloon!

Can you tell there are two underlying themes this week? If you guessed ‘what we did this summer’ and ‘balloons’ then you are right!

If you liked this experiment you may also like: Balloon Rocket!

Bassgiraffe's Thoughts Thursday Blog Hop

Balloon rocket

Here’s another balloon post for you, except this time on a much smaller scale! We’ve done this several times since I saw this idea in a few of our many science experiment books. The boys love it and never seem to tire of it being the fun indoor activity that I reach for when I need to get something done in the kitchen and want to have them nearby, like on a ‘bickering day’. It’s really quite simple!

Take a piece of yarn and thread it through a straw.

Tie the yarn to a doorknob across the room.

Tape the straw onto a balloon that is full of air, making sure to pinch the balloon closed so it doesn’t shrink while you are taping. This step is a good one for working together as a team, otherwise you’ve got to have a lot of coordination!

Hold the string tight and let go of the balloon!

What happens? Does the balloon go fast or slowly? What happens if you don’t blow the balloon up quite so much? What happens if you forget to use tape? What other observations can you make?

I tried many times to get a picture of this and it comes out blurry every time. I can’t even manage one of either of them simply holding the yarn as they are so giddy with excitement to watch the balloon rocket take off!

Where are we?

Can you guess where we are by looking at only the top picture?

We are sitting inside a hot air balloon! On our recent visit to my Dad’s we stopped by a health fair at the local park. The boys were fascinated with this balloon! Evidently it is a balloon that is no longer used for flying, so it is used in such a creative way for fun things like this!


The picture doesn’t come near to what the experience was like being inside it! Beach balls, and exercise balls all being kicked by shoeless boys and girls totally immersed in color!


That’s Hubby and Cutie Pie checking it out from the outside! What a unique experience!

We finally got Rain!

We’ve had a pretty dry summer here. This is a good thing because we haven’t had to mow the lawn for about 5 weeks, but our garden is suffering, along with many crops in the area. However, the other day it rained. (I wrote this before hurricane Irene. In this area we only had high winds and not the damaging weather Northern New York State experienced. My prayers are with those who are still dealing with damages from this hurricane, especially my friends and family in Northern NY.)


This was a good thing for us. The boys and I talked again about why rain is good for the ground, plants, animals and farmers (and have since talked about what happens when we get too much). All through the month of July while we watered the garden we talked about the plants drinking the water from the ground up and were careful to not water the leaves, but the roots to help the plants the most.

This summer it’s been fun watching the garden grow with the boys. We’ve got lots of tomatoes and peppers growing! What have you been growing in your garden? Have you had a great harvest this season?