Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Classic

Our new favorite game? Pin the Tail on the Donkey! Something so simple, so classic, and such a hit. I was feeling wholesome all over playing this with Sabrina. We found the game in this great activity book that I also had as a child. Some things only get better.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mirror Collage

A wonderful exercise designed by Sabrina's teachers for Back to School night. The parents had to recreate their children's paintings in a collage. I loved getting my hands sticky with glue and channeling Sabrina's inner artist. I kept wondering what she would pick and which materials she's like most. The teacher explained that revisiting a subject in different mediums is a staple of the Reggio Emilia method. It's a project I'd like to work on at home.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Look Who's at the Park... Again

Remember I promised to take the girls to the park more often? I'm keeping that promise, at least once or twice a week. I found one way to keep it fun for us/me is to explore different parks. This one's in Falls Church, next to the Farmer's Market, so we got to do two fun things in one morning. A gorgeous one at that.

I love a fun challenge and checking things off a list, so I've got a list of local parks and plan to visit them all by the end of the year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Portrait of a Guinea Pig

The children in Sabrina's class drew portraits of Nibbles, the class' guinea pig. I love the collection of drawings. So sweet how they all put such effort into portraying their little friend. The children's work and the lovely way the teachers displayed it really inspires and moves me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Childhood Worth of Movie Nights

A while ago we started having weekly movie nights (or afternoons) with Sabrina. She's four and we thought it was time to break open the TV armoire to her. But soon after I realized that even films made for children are often wrong for her and for our family.

I really found most movies to be too long, difficult to understand, violent, confusing, full of the wrong messages, quick to make the bad guys appealing, or touching on difficult subjects we have not yet discussed. Sabrina would often ask to watch the same thing again as soon as it was over and when I asked her why she said it was "so I can understand the story," which made me kind of sad that she was not so much enjoying herself as trying to keep up.

And yet, I know Sabrina really looked forward to movie time, as did Patrick and I. We love film, and I feel there is a definite purposeful place for movie watching in our home and in my children's childhood. It's another pleasure in life, and one I want to share with my entire family.

Enter this fantastic collection of DVDs. Over 100 short adaptations of classic stories, animated fairy tales, funny little movies and musical skits. Some read by famous actors--Meryl Streep's reading of Chrysanthemum is outstanding. Something we've been watching, laughing over, snuggling before, eating popcorn to and just simply loving. Sabrina still asks to watch the same movie over and over, but now she says it's because "it was so funny" or "I want to learn the songs."

And another cool thing about this collection? CC loves to play with the DVD boxes! She stacks them, pulls them out of the cardboard box, looks intently at the images. Something for everyone.

Read the new Week of Wonders about how I'm making order out of our huge collection of art supplies.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Goodies for a Frog

Sabrina has completed her first two weeks of preschool in the "Frog" class and is doing so well! She loves her teachers and gives them big hugs at the end of the school day, has been painting beautifully, practicing her writing, eating everything in her lunchbox and making new friends.

We're so proud of our little frog and wanted to show it with a present, this little bag of goodies. I went with a green and frog theme including the following: eco-friendly oil pastels (Sabrina's favorite medium as of late) and paper, a plastic frog, frog post-it notes, a canvas bag and apron, a mini blackboard, craft paper star box and sign to decorate as Sabrina wishes, an S to decorate, a heart made of flowers stamp, and a handmade pouch in an adorable frog and alphabet Japanese fabric.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I heard an interview with a Rabbi on the radio. He mentioned two things that struck me:

--We tend to focus on the bad things that have happened to us or worry about the negative possibilities ahead. But just as suddenly and quickly as a bad thing can happen, something wonderful can happen. We can be blessed at the most unexpected moments, but we're never waiting, focusing or hoping for that. Instead we're either waiting for or trying to avoid the bad. I will begin to expect something wonderful to happen at any moment. After all, I have already been blessed a thousand times over, why would I not expect for it to happen again and again and again?
--People's character can be judged by how they handle their money, how they handle their drink and how they handle their anger. I like this last part. It accepts that we all at times feel anger or other less than lovely emotions, but that we have choices in how we handle those feelings. I don't think I have felt true anger towards my children, but I have felt annoyance, exasperation, impatience, boredom... immediately followed by guilt. Now I'm thinking it's okay to feel those things, but that I want to be mindful of how I handle those feelings and how they affect my actions and relationships.

The image is Bliss by Shira Sela. Is she really dancing with joy or running away to have a good old meltdown?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Unexpected Treasure

Our walk had a purpose: find the perfect rock to paint. We found rocks, yes, but Sabrina is picky and none pleased her. And we gathered the usual nature treasure: dry pine cones, wilting flowers, a few turning leaves. Then we came across this graffiti stenciled on a bridge in the park. A baby dancing ballet. An angel jumping from a cloud. A flying doll. CC coming out of Mommy's tummy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Healthy Treats

I am looking for healthy and simple treats to make with and for my girls. We so enjoy playing around in the kitchen, but don't want to be licking batter and frosting and eating cupcakes all day long.

Today we made these super simple chocolate-covered bananas. We melted 1 cup of very good quality dark chocolate with 2 tablespoons of super good for you coconut oil. We dipped frozen banana halves on a stick in the melted mixture and froze for 30 more minutes. Could also have sprinkled with nuts for extra crunch and nutrition.

Will you share some of your healthy and fun treats?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Playground

Is there something your children love that you resist? For me, it's going to the playground. I know, it's such a staple of childhood... but it's just not my thing. So I've always left it to our babysitter Lidia to take CC and Sabrina there on the mornings she comes. But with Sabrina in school four mornings a week now she misses out on the playground outings with Lidia.

So when she asked so sweetly one afternoon if we could go, how could I say no or try to distract her with other ideas? We went and had a lovely time. It's so different now that the girls can play together, and they do it so much more nicely at the park than they do at home. I sat back, breathed in the cooler air (hello fall!), absorbed the sounds of happy children, watched my growing babies until Sabrina declared she was hungry and it was time for dinner.

I will say yes more often. Yes to the playground and to everything else my girls want because their hearts never steer us wrong.

On the most recent Week of Wonders I write about what makes us happy and how much I'm learning from my children about happiness, creativity, life. What makes you and your children happy?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fresh Inspiration at Kidmade

I like Kidmade, a clever blog I just discovered thanks to The Artful Parent. It's all about art made by children. It's a wonderful place to browse with Sabrina because we find ideas for new projects and get to see what other little artists are up to. I especially like the monthly challenge and will start participating this fall. The gallery of art made with nature treasure is my favorite.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Preschool II

Sabrina started her second year of preschool. She's in the Frog class with many of the same friends from last year as well as some new children. What a difference a year makes. No one had butterflies in their stomach. No one cried. No one prepared for this moment all summer long. And no one went around the school to peak through the window either.

We were all cool... too cool for posing for the first day of school picture even. Sabrina just wanted to be silly for the camera. I hope this is a sign of what's to come this school year. Lighthearted and silly days. Being serious? Time for that later.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Daddy's Birthday

This card includes a joke: Daddy, do you like spinach? says Sabrina. No Yuck, says Daddy.

See CC's little hand?

Daddy has some fancy blue ribbon and a crown. Sabrina has strawberries in her hair. Mommy is the one floating. And CC? CC's in bed, which is where babies should be when there's a party according to Sabrina.

Following our tradition of baking something special for Patrick on his birthday, we prepared the most delicious carrot walnut raisin cupcakes topped with the most delicious maple syrup cream cheese frosting. We also decorated the house with handmade flag garlands. And Sabrina outdid herself with two works of art in honor of Daddy. Happy birthday my love! Wishing us so many more.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Art Lesson

We've been sitting down for art time every afternoon lately. It's a nice moment of respite from all the activity and, for me, from the climbing up things and the "no, no, no, CC" that goes on so much of the time. But art time is not always easy between Sabrina being reluctant to share her materials, CC eating the materials and each one wanting what the other is using... but then, there always comes a blissful moment of peace when creativity starts to flow and the colors and feel of the art materials start to charm my girls into a new little world. Here Sabrina draws and tells CC about her work as CC watches carefully. I love that look on her face! I love art.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

CC Tumbles

Today I took CC to her first baby gym class. It was great fun for her and so nice for me to have some time alone with her. It's been a great summer of togetherness for our family, but I missed having more one-one-one time with each of the girls, especially with CC. This was perfect, and while CC was interested in the other children and adults and of course in all the activities, she periodically came back to me sweetly crawling into my lap for a hug before running off again. I am in love with this child.

Look at that sweet profile.

Happy School Days!

Today my nephew Alex started Kindergarten.

Happy school days, Alex!
You're going to have a wonderful year!

Sabrina is very excited for him, but a bit jealous that she will not be learning how to read and write with him. She drew him this picture. Alex is the first kid on the bus. We delivered it together with a bag of school-themed goodies. We still have another week to go before Sabrina's preschool starts. I'm not ready for the summer to be over!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Making Lemonade

On the lookout for customers.

Nice pouring!

Sabrina even got tips!

The lemonade maker takes a break.

We were looking forward to spending extra time with Daddy today, but duty called and he had to work on efforts related to Hurricane Gustav. So instead, we girls spent the morning setting up a Labor Day lemonade stand. From start to finish, it was so much fun, involving time in the kitchen squeezing and stirring, at the art station coloring a sign, and outdoors setting everything up and waiting for customers. Sabrina was a determined little vendor and made some serious profits! Lemons into lemonade indeed!