Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lydia does Science

At Lydia's school we have had a few homework assignments. First we had to make a collage of her family and most important people. So they could share it at school. And then we were asked to make a sensory bottle. There was a very nice handout with several options but Eliot and I liked the Density Bottle the best. It seemed cool.
The ingredients were the following:

  • honey

  • corn syrup

  • dawn dish soap

  • colored water

  • vegetable oil

It is a preschoolers homework so it's rather simple. You pour some of each in this order in the bottle what was sent home. We even had a funnel.

They suggested we colored the water so Lydia picked blue. Well actually she picked purple but the red and blue food coloring dyes made it too dark and it wasn't bright enough to stand out. So blue it was.

A few things did go awry. First the Dawn Dish soap we had was not the traditional type, it was the antibacterial kind which I think made a difference when we poured in the water. The blue water was just absorbed by the soap and so we instantly had 4 layers instead of 5.

Then I accidently closed the bottle the teacher sent home with the vegetable oil bottle's top. The wrong top got stuck on. It was stuck on lopsided. Something about the combination of varies sticky oily drippy liquids with a lopsided wrong top caused this thing to be a permanently placed on it. We got tools. It didn't help. We used that cool rubber jar opener to help hold it steady. It didn't help.

We ended up making 2 more in different bottles. We used a Publix 16 ounce water bottle which after sealed feel and the whole thing turned into mush. Brown thick yuck. We left it on the kitchen counter to see if it would naturally balance out. It didn't. Then, we used the honey bear bottle which did keep the strata format which was intended but the water wasn't noticeable therefore only 4 layers rather than 5.
I would give us an A for effort. A B for the bear, because we didn't really follow all the directions since there was no footnote about antibacterial soap. And a colossal failure for the original little bottle. Here is a link for the project from a mommy blogger with what the actual bottle should look like.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rainy Day Activities

The last couple of days it has been rainy. It is always tough to entertain the kids on those types of days instead of flicking on the television. It is also a challenge with kids of different ages and abilities. Luckily, Vivi is now 13 months and she is more able to participate in a few activities. I had some empty containers that I was saving but I wasn't sure why. I quickly filled them with different objects: dominoes, couscous, a bell, a little person, a couple of little bouncy balls and even one with colorful pompoms. They all made a different sound and some loud some none, but she loved it. She picked them up and shook them up. She loved the one with couscous the best. It had a nice shaker sound.
Meanwhile, Lydia got a few crafts for her birthday that we decided to work on. One was a little mirror to decorate. She loves the glitter glue much to any mom's concern but she did a good job keeping it on the mirror. I have to say it was an easy activity to do and she was able to not only be creative but use various small motor skills.
For Vivi I had an only busy bag set of colored popsicle sticks that have Velcro on them. I prestuck them for her and she liked unsticking them. She isn't quite ready yet to stick them together but it was still a great activity. I have about a dozen of them and so it would take her bit to unstick them. I would simply reconnect and she would start over.
The mirror took Lydia almost the entire time we were sitting together. There was jewels and stickers.
Once she did finish we worked on a princess sticker book she also got for her birthday. The book had little descriptions and outlines of where to put the stickers that Lydia called their shadows. I pulled the stickers out so once I read the description she could find the right picture. There was a page for the princesses, their friends, and the villains.  We did the first page before dinner and the last couple pages after dinner. It provided a lot of opportunities to have conversations about princesses in general.

Admittedly, my 3 year has a much better grip on all that stuff than I would have imagined. And yesterday her favorites were the villains. She chanced Vivian around the house growling like a wicked witch and Vivian ran away laughing so hard. It was delightful.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lydia's Princess Extravaganza!

For the past year Lydia has been loving to play dress up! She loves to throw on hat or heels and prance around the house. When she's done most of the time she says, " I just want to be Lydia." At some point this year her dressing up focused a little more on princesses and we invested in a used lot of costumes from eBay. Best purchase we ever made. Hence, it seemed natural to have a princess dress up birthday party. Most of Lydia's little friends are girls and so there we have it. Some of the things we have learned over the years of kid parties is be sure you have something for them to do beyond just running around and keep things simple i.e. food, d├ęcor, less is more idea.

I tried to do just that. A couple of highlights. I saw this on pinterest and then for the life of me couldn't find it again, so I winged it and I think it turned out well. This is just colored paper and double sided tape.

We had some extra streamers from other events so I wrapped up the center chair which is typically a captains chair to be her throne. I love balloons and I typically order a dozen for $10 at the Party City by our house. They only last 8 hours, so I order a few days early and pay, then pick them up the day of the party. I wanted things to look fancy so I pulled out only white and clear dishes.

It is hard to see here, but we made fruit wands. Using a cookie cutter we cut watermelon stars to top skewers of grapes. Super cute! I put them in a vase to add a little fancy. I used to really dislike plastic table cloths but last party I learned the beauty of throwing out the plastic table cloth.

Our main activity was the bounce house. It was awesome! However it was hot and we had to be sure to pull the kids in every 30 minutes or so for drink and air conditioning breaks. A Funny Business which is a family own and run inflatable company was amazing. They were more than accommodating and were really great at making sure we were happy with out order.
We ordered a cake from Publix. Lydia picked it out. It was so cute and all the toys on she was able to keep. The little castle opens up to store the princesses. It is hard to read but they added Happy Birthday on the walkway on the cake which actually required a very long conversation with the bakery folk. You would be surprised.

In between the bouncing we brought our princes and princesses inside. They played with the Little People castle and other pink toys to perpetuate the royal nature of the event.
We also decorated foam tiaras with stick on jewels and stickers. After they were finished they were able to prance around wearing their new head gear.
Lydia changed dresses a couple of times during the day. First she was Sophia and then she was Cinderella. After party she wore her pink hearted fedora and pink poodle purse.
For our party gift we gave out golden books. We decided that so often the goody bag is just as expensive as one usable item so we strive to continue this practice for the future. We had 2 books Princess and the Pea and The Blue Book of Fairy Tales. I added some thank you stickers on the back.
It was a great day! We had tons of fun!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lassing Park and Barlett Park

Over a month ago at this point we made it to a couple more parks in South Pinellas county. The first was Lassing Park which is really just a giant field next to water. It is supposed to be beachy but I am not sure that it has enough sand on the shore for that. I will also say that it is on the Bayside thus I don't recommend a lot of time in the water there, however it was a beautiful scene. People walked around with their dogs. Others were picnicking and some even going for a run. It is secluded for the most part, so the only people going to this park already know where it is.

Since Lassing Park didn't have a ton to offer in terms of activity we jumped over to
Bartlett Park. Historically known to be a rougher part of town because of it's location was beautifully renovated and wonderfully welcoming. This park has a ton of family fun to offer. The recreation center was filled with families most of which were watching little league football and little league cheerleading. The fields were packed. The playground was nestled between the community center and the St. Petersburg Tennis Complex which I played at a lot when I was younger.

Lydia always loves a new playground and this was not any exception. It was a hot day and it would have been beneficial for this playground to have a little more shade provided. Nevertheless, the playground was ideal to have Lydia run and climb a bit before the afternoon showers that were impending.

We began the exploration of our local parks in late April and the mission was ambitious: to hit 50 parks by August. We didn't make our goal. We made it to 21 different parks in the hottest months of the year which for a little busy family of four I think was pretty good. We love being outside and we will continue to explore our area parks with the wide eyed excitement of our children, hoping to someday hit our goal of 50!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


My parents have moved.
My parents moved. 

I am not quite sure how to best write that. I have never had to write it before. I am in an awkward state of sentimentality and simultaneously, pure excitement. Yesterday at quarter to 8 in the evening, we closed up the house on Neptune Drive which was place where my childhood unfolded and my adulthood was rooted. For 35 years, my parents have lived in a small but cozy little house which was always very clean and tidy. I have an overwhelming amount of memories attached to those walls and thus, I have an overwhelming amount of sentiment that continued to gush out, mostly out of my eyes, periodically yesterday evening.

For some people parents moving has always been part of their lives, sometimes because of the work they did; others because of circumstances. My parents never moved. Well, other than when they left their homeland Cuba, and  then later left Spain. No biggie. They have lived in Coquina Key for the 40 years that they have lived in this country. As we packed things up, I can't help but think that even today with my own home, the best sleep I have ever gotten was in my tiny childhood bedroom. Before my parents had central air I had an individual air unit which was always on full blast, so the room was cold closer to freezing, dark as a night and I had a bundle of blankets which allowed for the best sleep of your life. Not to mention the ever present feeling of security of being home.

I also found a giant rock that a old neighbor friend and I had found one in my early teens near the old Publix shopping center. I liked the rock so much we borrowed a shopping cart and rolled it home and then took the cart back. A silly memory but what it reminds me of is the people that have surrounded us for all these years. For a neighborhood that in so many ways has always been ever changing, we have had the same direct neighbors for over 25 years. Some for longer. People came over the last few days and cried on the shoulders of my mother in disbelief that they would no longer be there; there in that place.

Where did they move to? Well about two blocks way from me, in a perfect little condo where they no longer have to worry about aging roofs, giant trees and perpetual lawn mowing. We will get to eat dinner together more, Eliot and I will get to go the moves more, my girls will someday ride their bikes there, on Halloween my parents will stay late and give out candy. I am so deeply thankful that they will continue to be part of our daily lives even as my girls grow older. This move is such an amazing blessing for me, but for them too.

My parents have moved!
My parents moved!