Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Freedom Crafts

Eliot has been working a series of evenings shifts this week. I always plan activities when this happens partly because I am a camp counselor and teacher through and through and I like to have my little campers focused. Last night we made crafts in honor of the 4th of July.

Lydia has been working hard on using her scissors and so I had an old pack of calendar pages from on of those page a days. The whole week before Independence Day had various festive images. I let her practice her cutting and then glue.

For my two year old a glue stick is like magic. You wipe it and things stick to it. This could entertain her for hours. This project is also a great Earth Day project because everything involved is recycled even the sheet she is gluing on is a random piece of found paper.

In between crafts, I always have an activity. I love the Melissa and Doug reusable sticker pads. They work sort of like window clings. The first packet we had was various animal habitats and animals, now we have acquired the Play House! and Make-A-Meal. As she has gotten older she has enjoyed these more and more, last night was definitely a success.
I was trying to get ready the next activity which was making a cotton ball flag.  I took a piece of red paper, drew a square on the upper left hand corner and added stripes. I cut a blue square for her to glue in the corner. She added glue spots to attach cotton balls onto every other row. Later we had stars of many colors she glued onto the blue square.

Finally our last craft was simple. We have been working on letters. I made the letters USA for her. We traced them with our fingers. We looked at each one and talk about what it started with. She then used the magic glue stick and we were done with our USA poster!

She called it a house when she put it on her head. I took this as a teachable moment to tell her Yes, the USA is a house for all people. We live in Florida which is apart of the USA. She wasn't quite ready for the civic lesson.

So what was the 10 month old doing? Well at this stage it's all oral and it's all sensory. So I collected a bucket of stuff that I put on her high chair. As she threw things on the ground I put something new on there. She touched it all and put it all in her mouth and it went well.
I have a set of measuring cups that bend down and pop up. I would occasional stack these, she would push them down. Somehow she almost seemed to be stirring and playing kitchen.
I also put the items in a clear container I normally use to storage stamps and she enjoyed taking them out. We did this several times.

Eventually it was time for some milk and she played with the frig magnetic mini-puzzle. This has been great for both the kids.

No doubt there is some juggling going on in these moments, however, we all had a good time developing our senses in different ways. Tomorrow Freedom Cake.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Swim Boo! Swim Yay!

Lydia took her first swim class at 6 months. She loved it.
Lydia at 8 months

She took swim most of her first year. She loved it.
Lydia at swim 2012

Right when she turned 2 we took a break. Why did we take a break? Well we had a baby and moved.

This past March we started swim classes again. Nightmare. She no longer loved it, she hated it. She screamed. She cried. She clawed. She clinged. Do not be deceived by her delighted look below. On this day, she didn't even enter the pool. She sat on the edge.

Other moms looked and provided a series of comments some useful; some not so useful. It's hard to take people seriously when you watch them yell " You are fat! Why are you so fat! Fatso!" at their 18m old kid on the sideline. Regardless, it was brutal to watch Lydia in the pool. Her coach did things that made me gasp from the comfort of the air conditioned parent waiting room, but he won her over. Then they split the class in half since they had 3 instructors working with 9 kids, they created 2 classes one of 4, the other of 5. Lydia was not longer with her preferred coach (mostly because of fatso's mom, but that's another story) and so the torment begun again. The other coach was very nice but let her get away with everything, so we spent a lot of time going to the bathroom, being whiny and being clingy.

We finished another session without much accomplished. This time I made a point of making sure she was with her previous coach, who lovingly tells her to shut it and suck it up. At the beginning of June, she began again with him. The first few classes she clinged, she cried, and scream in terror. Every afternoon she had swim, she would throw a colossal fit when I told her we were going to class and it would take almost a full 30 minutes to get her in her suit.

There were days where she sucked the life out of that poor guy and days she didn't get the coveted lollipop at the end of the class, and finally yesterday we had a great class! No tears! She floated! She kicked! She did great!

She was so deeply scared. Don't get me wrong a healthy fear of the water is encouraged for little ones, in Florida, especially as a pool owner, however we had to help her understand the difference between respecting the water and being safe with a trusted adult. I was so proud yesterday of her success!

Now we take a 2 week break. Sigh. Crossing my fingers.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lealman Park

Lealman Park turned out to be a not so hidden treat, as it's positioned right in 54th avenue N. It is completely fenced in all around with plenty of parking on the interior street. Lealman is a a tiny area which most would consider part of St. Pete but technically it is a CDP or census designated place. Thus there is no link through the city of St Pete for the park, however it does have a Facebook page.

Within the fenced in area there was a fenced in basketball court, pretty clean bathrooms with soap and paper towels which for our public parks is a rarity and a covered pavilion.

The park was very shady which was perfect for the summer party we attended there. In addition to the natural shady of the many trees there was a giant parachute shade over top of the playground area. There were tons of swings and a good climbing set with a slide.

I've noticed that the parks that are the most successful with my girls are the ones that have at least a couple of not traditional items such as the climbing fire truck below. They pretended to drive it, ride it, to be trapped in it, to save people and on it went. There was also a giant purple dragon for 2 to ride.

The soft ground is great for the little ones. Vivi crawled a little and cruised a bit on some of the equipment. The soft play ground also apparently allowed Lydia to fall, get a scrape and not even flinch.

It was a really nice space which had everything needed for a great park experience.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sparkle Lake and England Brothers Parks

We have been remarkably busy, but we have been able to squeeze a couple more parks. It is a tough time of year for going to parks because the heat is on! If Glen Frey would have only known how much he would resonate with Floridians he may have written another song. It is hot. By the end of the day, when I open my car door steam seems to spill out and as I slip in, it strangles me. Moments before my suffocation the car air kicks on and soothes. If you wait too long in the evening to go because it is cooler, the little vampires of the night come out, mosquitos mark their territory all over your body. Regardless, we like these precarious outdoors.
Can you see the Sparkle?

This time we looked at the Pinellas County map and saw two parks in Pinellas Park. Our first visit was to Sparkle Lake Park position at the end of  one of my best friends childhood home, though I had never been there. The park is small but has a lot going on. There is a small lake and short boardwalk, basketball courts, an adult exercise area, really nice pavilion with bbqs and a playground. The playground itself was fairly ordinary but there several swings which for the first time in a long time, Lydia was really into. The entire playground area has the soft ground which is popular now for ease of play.
Adult Work Out Area

As we were leaving because it was going to get late, a group of kids that were too old to be there but too young to be out alone unsupervised stormed the park. We were happy we were leaving as the tweens were invading. We decided to go see England Brothers Park which is really not a park. England Brothers is more like a field. It is meant for festivals or markets not really for play. Within the field there seemed to be small posts for mobile homes or other vendor types to plug in so it would not work as a play field either. There is a stage I assume for musical guests which Lydia loved. Lydia insisted on being announced to her audience several times and doing a little dance once she had finished waving off the fans. So, if your kid likes to put on a show I suppose  you could pack a picnic and let them perform on days that events are not hosted there, otherwise not very family friendly. For city sponsored events at England Brothers check here. Some of the options do seem fun such as Movie in the Park keep in mind that it will be in mid July please refer to my commentary on the heat above.

There are definitely more interesting parks in Pinellas Park and we will find them as we continue on our park quest.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

Yesterday I started teaching summer school which for some reason I really perversely enjoy. I have full 3 hour blocks with my students every day and no real administrative duties. To me it's like teacher heaven with the exception that I really don't have any breaks during the day. I taught from 8:30-3:30 with about 45 minutes for lunch between clean up and set up between classes.

At a sharp 3:30 I went home.
Arrived at 4:00. I threw on comfortable clothes got Lydia into her swimmies and speed off to swim class.
After swim, I came home about 6, ate something then took off to drop the Toyota to get something fixed.
7:30 I was back, parents left (thank God for them!) and bathed both girls.
8:30 but Vivian down.
8:45 Lydia down.
9 ordered Father's day things for the grandpas, looked at some bills.
9:30 Printed out some coloring sheets with the letter B. Lydia likes letters right now.
10 I finally got in my PJ and watched Food Network Star (Shut it! I love it!)

It was one of those days that you just don't even get a chance to sit down. Exhausting.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Failed Crafty Moments

For Easter I made Vivian her own finger paints. I bought Vanilla pudding and used just one drop of  natural food coloring for each little cup. After stirring it around the color easily took and put them in to little glass jars. They looked cute and I put them in her basket.
With all the excitement, colds and to-dos, we hadn't gotten a chance to use them yet. I happen to glance at the inside of her basket which was still sitting on our buffet and noticed aqua ooze splattered all over. Not really processing what had happened yet, I grab the jar to see that all the jars had ooze seeping out the lids. Apparently the pressure somehow caused it to implode, and then come out.

So I toss them out, assuming that if it combusted I couldn't in good for my baby. I did however, buy more pudding and I figure when we are ready to do it, I will mix it and let her play.

My other failed project was this giant large floral chair and a funky 80's giant ottoman that were both given to us and are both super comfy. Since they are atrocious we got chair covers. We got a green color because we found the ottoman and chair cover in the same shade. Now we have a beautiful new gray couch in that lounge library type room and this green ottoman and chair situation. Instead of getting another expensive cover I decided to dye it. I figured a darker shade of gray would be nice but the Rit Dye folks only had one gray option so that is what I got, a pearl gray that from the moment I saw it against the share, I knew it was likely not going to take, but I still had to try.
I boiled the water, added vinegar as instructed, gloved and stirred ferociously. I let things soak for over 30 minutes. I looked at the instructions repeatedly and I had followed them to the tee. I did notice that in small writing it said, will not dye polyester, rayon or wool. I looked at the cover label and it is 95% polyester and 5% spandex. I poked and stirred my bucket filled with material some more and then rinsed it in defeat.
I tried. I failed. It's still green, well like a greenish.