Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Light Table

After one google search of "Light Tables" it was apparent that there are dozens of tutorials on how to make one.  After reading several, I had the basic premise for what I needed to do.  It seemed to me that several of them were doing excessive steps, so this is my brief recap of what I did and the corners I cut.
I picked up two flat totes for $5 each at Walmart, as well as some metallic spray paint ($3.50) and a fluorescent light that is intended for going under kitchen cabines ($10).  I will admit, I was not thinking things through when I purchased the totes I did.  I should have spent the extra $2 and purchased the totes with clear lids so they would stack better, but I didn't like the handles...Anyway....I made do with what I bought, and just flipped the tote upside down.

Next, I covered the bottom of one tote with a trash bag and tape (I only painted one tote, the second tote is for containing the toys on top of the lighted tote).

Painted 2-3 coats of metallic silver on the inside of the tote, and the lid.  I did two real coats, and then just touched up spots I missed.
Next I removed the bag, and painted a very light layer (dusting might be a good word) on the bottom of the lid.  I just wanted to give it enough so it wasn't clear because it wouldn't diffuse the light well.  I had read about others buying a can frost paint, but I wasn't going to spend extra money on the paint.  Some other people also lined the bottom with tracing paper.  I thought this was easier.

I used epoxy to glue my light diagonally across the lid and let it sit for at least 20 minutes (my light just barely fit diagonally on the lid). 
Lastly I drilled a small hole for the light cord, and that's it.
The tote I painted sits upside down, and the unpainted tote on top.  Then I gave O various transparent items to play with in it.

 Along with the dozens of tutorials on how to make a light table there are lots of fun ideas for what to do with the light table.  I see finger paint in our near future :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finger Painting

Messy play is a great sensory experience for young children.  They learn about different textures, temperatures, develop hand-eye coordination, and fine motor control.  It can also be a great calming activity for children.  The cool temperatured finger paint squishing through your fingers and gliding across the paper can be relaxing and a great emotional release.  These are all things O needs right now with daddy being gone, and both of our stress levels high.  I have given her several opportunities to play in sensory tubs, light table work, painting, sandbox time, water table time/bath time, etc. to help her regain composure when she starts to unravel.
  I keep reminding myself of all the benefits when I am cleaning up afterwards...

Friday, May 25, 2012

In The Making

Step 1:  Find Cute Pattern

Step 2:  Measure and Cut

Step 3:  This material is begging for some bling...

Step 4:  Evaluate the size, determine it will not be big enough for your stuff

Step 5:  Add a bottom with some cushion

Step 6:  Make that LOTS of cushion

Step 7:  Assemble the outside and the middle with all that extra padding...very very slowly so you don't break the needle on your sewing machine.
Step 8:  Add a lining made of ripstop

Step 9:  Realize the price of foam at JoAnns, and say, "I don't think so."
Improvise with $1.50 pool noodle.  Cut the pieces in half, and cover in material.

Step 10:  Forget to take a picture, but line the inside of the bag with large velcro pieces to accommodate the above foam cushions.  

Step 11:  Apply the other half of the velcro to foam pieces, and insert in bag to protect camera, kindle, and laptop.

Step 12:  Forget to take photos again of all the little bags inside the purse to separate toys from wallets, and pens from snacks.
Step 13:  Photograph at least part of the finished product.
It is my All-in-One bag to hold my many electronics, with separators for all the other stuff this mama feels the need to carry around.  Hmm...maybe I should call it my Mary Poppins bag?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"I have to tell you something"

After we dropped a heavily decorated letter to daddy (we are talking stickers EVERYWHERE) into the mailbox, we went in to the post office to pick up our mail, only to find a letter from F!

Ironically, the only thing in the letter was directions for how to properly address his mail.  This includes putting his platoons name and number on the back (not stickers?).  Out of curiosity I googled what others typically include in letters to family in basic training.  Every single soldier says no stickers, or girly colored envelopes (oops!).  Some even mentioned having to do extra push ups because of poorly addressed mail (uh oh).  I am totally out of the loop as to what is military appropriate.  So far it has been the exact opposite of my instinct. 

On a lighter note.....

Today, during our more structured school time we were working on identifying letters.  Thanks to Homeschool Creations we have a whole lot of printable material.  We worked on the "Dog" theme (it seemed suiting because we have been around a lot of dogs lately).  In the packet there are various activities, including 3-part cards, clothespin matching, and a section where you can either clothespin the correct letter or circle it (we circle it).

I placed the 3 part matching cards out, so O could see the word to help her find the correct beginning letter.  The first three she needed help with, and was having trouble.  I noticed her finally become aware of the 3 part cards I displayed, and the next several clothespins went on quickly.  Before she put on her last clothespin she said, "Mommy, I have to tell you something.  I am not doing this right.  I can see the letters over there on the cards, so I know which letters to put here."

Friday, May 18, 2012

School Time

Writing letters, coloring, counting, and making 'birds' is just a few of the things we've done this week.  I hate to pester O while she is working with the constant flash of the camera but I also want to keep track for F so he can see some of what we do.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Family Photo

Did you ever have one of those day when nothing goes right?  I have had my share lately.  This Mother's Day we were able to visit with some family we very rarely get to see, and of course get photos.  Well by the time we got around to taking photos O wanted nothing to do with it.  Hence Photo #1.
 Take 2, Dad is not paying attention.
 Take 3 would have been decent except I handed my SLR camera to someone who only uses a point and click.  Then the person neglected to actually look at the photo and see that D and my dad are hardly visible..........

Don't even get me started with this one......
                   Or this.....

Oh well.......Although I can already here F now, "Did you check the settings"  "Why did you line them up like that"  At least our immediate family photos are good ;-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What to do, what to do?

We have a lot of hours to fill up in day.  We have our normal routine things like making lunch together, reading, and going for walks, but the days seem so, so long now.  There is nothing to break up the day.

I think this is a small part of a bigger problem.  No one is getting any sleep.  O seems to get through her mornings and afternoon by going from intense activity to another.  She does school work, she does artwork, she makes sand castles.  All of these are very intense activities for her.  Then she can't seem to get herself to calm down.  I make a point of starting to wind down several hours before bed, but she just doesn't want to go to bed without saying goodnight to her daddy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

School Time

 We started with some simple rhyming cards (she just matches the pictures that rhyme...I got this from Montessori for Everyone)
 Next up we matched statues to their respective pictures.  This was a gift for O's birthday from a good friend.  She was inspired by Chasing Cheerios.  We have 10 famous landmarks, and we do several things with them.  Like I already said, first we match them to the picture.  Next we choose one to read some facts about the landmark.
 Then we pull out our world placemat and we find the countries they belong in.  This part is a little tricky because our map is so small, but we make it work.  Finally, we take turns counting in different languages (Mostly spanish) to 10 with our eyes shut, while the other one removes a landmark.  Then we figure out which landmark is missing.
 And the last of the pictures (but this is not all we did for school) we got this printable from Homeschool Creations.  I lay out the numbers (sometimes in numerical order, sometimes not) and we take turns hiding the frog under the numbers.  Again the one seeking closes her eyes and counts in another language or backwards from 10.
We are also still working on our 100 Easy Lessons to learn to Read and O is still enjoying it.  The lessons are 20 minutes, and it is about our max for sitting still and listening.  We have had to take a break in the middle of the lesson twice, because O gets antsy, but she is getting better, and has caught on to the flow of the lesson.  She knows after she writes her letters she is done.

Another part of our day that we enjoy is called Operation World.  It is easy to do, gives O a bigger picture of someone to pray for other than herself and immediate family, and helps her learn a little about geography.  Basically every day we go to the site, and find a country that we can pray for (some countries get several days), we also read a little about what we can pray for and where it is on the map.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crafty Gals

We have about a million art supplies.  We do some type of artwork at least every other day (aside from the usual coloring).  I have always tried to let O explore the medium on her own, and not show her the 'right' way to paint or what have you.  If she asks or shows interest I will show her with hand-over-hand technique how to do something. 
Generally speaking I also do not just hand her coloring books to color in.  Yes we have them.  No we rarely use them.  O prefers to make her own pictures, and I rather enjoy her creative description (which I am usually trying to frantically write down as she tells me).  I don't feel like a coloring book teaches much other than how to fill in lines.  
Anyway, here are a few photos of O painting with glitter glue pens and puffy fabric paint.  (Yes, I know fabric paint goes on fabric, but the texture is so fun when it dries we totally use it on good old paper).

I tried to get a better angle so you can see the mountain O was creating with the paint.  Seriously, she emptied out two containers of paint and a whole lot from the rest of the colors on this mountain.  She totally had an idea in her head for what she wanted the picture to look like.  She was making mountains, rivers, and islands.  I am so glad I don't interrupt her and tell her not to 'waste' the material.  She worked on this painting for an hour straight, and then came back to finish some details.  

Now,  onto my mini project for the evening.  Since I am staying at my parents my mom asked if I could whip her up a new towel with a crochet top to attach to her fridge handle for drying hands. 
I cut one of her towels she had on hand in two.
Next I got my chocolate brown yarn out, and whip stitched the part I cut to help keep it from fraying and to give me something to work with as base row for crocheting.....
 And voila....the finished project....which you can't really see because I use brown yarn and put it on a black fridge.....sometimes my air head comes out.

And finally I also whipped up a cute little hat.  A friend of mine designed the hat and asked me to do a test run on the pattern.  I made the hat for a 6-18 month boy, but my 4 year old girl is wearing it.  That's not to say the pattern is off or my crocheting is off.  It's just my kiddo has a small head and well that hat was squeezed on their pretty tight.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Growing Up

O is a shaped like a bean pole.  She always has been.  I measured her and weighed her right after F left and confirmed my suspicion.  O is the height of a 5 1/2 year old and the weight of a 3 year old.  It makes it nearly impossible to buy clothes for her.  She can't wear pants because they fall right off her little bottom.

Height 41 1/2
Weight 33

The picture on the right of O and F was taken so we can see how much O grows while F is gone.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The tooth fairy

Conversation with O
O:  Let's play a game.  You be the mama, and I'll be the tooth fairy.  I will fly around and give everybody gifts.
Me:  What's a tooth fairy?
O:  A tooth fairy is someone who gives people gifts.
Me:  When does she give gifts?
O:  At night.
Me:  She gives everyone gifts every night?  That's a lot of gifts.  I bet she gets tired.
O:  Yeah, but she's a fairy.
Me:  Why is she called a tooth fairy?
O:  Cause she can fly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trying to find the norm

I have a hunch this is going to get very boring to read, even to our family.  Our first full day was intentionally boring.  We got up, and had our typical breakfast, and did school.  O seemed to enjoy the reading lesson again today.  We also made some pretty cool building/pictures/designs with the Cuisenaire rods.  I have a stock pile of printed activities that I cut/covered in contact paper.  We went through several of those today.
We went to the park where O (for the first time) pumped her legs on the swing.  That was pretty exciting. She also tried dribbling a basket ball and "throwing it at the net."
We also exercised together today.  It lasted a whole 15 minutes, but hey I am building up to bigger things :-)  We ran at O's pace for several minutes and then I did lunges, push ups, leg lifts, etc. while O played at the park.  Then we chased each other, danced around and I carried her home.  Not exactly P90X, but it worked for today.
I am also pretty excited that tonight I got to listen to a webinar about "Getting kids to listen without reminding or yelling."  It is done by Amy-McCready who does positive parenting solutions.  She had some similar points to Gary Chapman's in "5 Love Languages for Kids," as well as many things I already learned in college.  I know that some times these methods do not work, but I would say that 99% of the time these methods work.  It was nice to hear the review of great principles that help parents better train their children.  I was listening to like-minded women :-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And so it begins...

I am going to switch this blog up a bit.  To change with the times and the season of life I am going to *try* to keep this blog more of an update of what O and I are doing.  When daddy has a chance to go online, he can read some silly and fun stories and see how we are doing on our attempt to learn letters and begin reading before daddy gets back.

F left this morning at 6:30.  The day is dragging by.  We have our necessities at my parents so we can spend the night here, and we came out here after we said goodbye.
Other than F actually driving away (well the recruiter was driving but anyway) the two hardest parts of the day were when O saw his vehicle in the driveway and said, "Daddy is going to need his car to drive to work." Then I had to explain what was happening to her again.  The second was when she told me she needed to hear her daddy's voice on the book he recorded for her.

We made a big paper chain with 65 chain links to represent each day F will be gone (this is just for basic, not OCS or BOLC).  At the end of every day O can take one off.  Tonight she tried to persuade me to take off two so he would get home faster.  Then she told me in the morning she is going to talk to daddy.  Ahh sweet child, I wish it were so.

To add to the stress of F leaving today, and explaining a dozen times my phone just turned off and I can not get it back on.  I am not sure if it just didn't get charged properly or what.  I am certain it is me, but I can't seem to figure it out.  Off to town tomorrow to get it looked at.

On a much happier note, we began a new book called,
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons .  The name pretty much says it all.   O loved the first lesson.  I really like the way the book teaches letters, reading, and writing at the same time.  I also love that we call the letters by their sounds, not their names, which is so very Montessori.

O also discovered all of my 20+ year old dance outfits.  She absolutely loved playing dress up.  I can remember HATING wearing those outfits, because they were so itchy and uncomfortable.  She couldn't care less about the comfort.  It was all about being fancy.  

I can not tell you how happy I am that day 1 is over.