Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Messy Craft Day

We headed to Michael's this morning to stock up on some craft supplies. Alex was in heaven walking up and down the aisles of sparkly beads, paints, foam shapes and pipe cleaners! She settled on some foam butterflies and (*gulp*) glitter glue.
I'm not scared of making a mess, but it still took some courage to hand my toddler glitter glue sticks and let her create! I'm so glad I did-- even though I had to swallow hard when I saw huge pools of glue all over, I told myself to relax and enjoy-- it's not like the materials were expensive, she can use as much as she wants! She had a great time, and we'll use the finished products as decorations for her 'Fairy Birthday Tea' in October.
Then she broke out some new fingerpaints!! My formerly mess-phobic girl is branching out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Doll Play


A few weeks ago, Grandma Mary sent Alex a very special surprise package with some quilts for her fairy house. She's been playing with them every morning-- putting her fairies to sleep, having picnics, and (most interestingly) trying to get them to hang as curtains in the windows of the dollhouse.This morning, she took some time to play while I was doing the breakfast clean-up. I happened to sneak into the living room and snap a few pictures of her engaged in her 'work' before ballet class. I love that she is now at the stage where she is starting to make up storylines for her dolls to follow! This morning, they were getting up out of bed and going on a walk to the park.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baking Therapy

Due to her meltdown on Saturday, Alex and I took Monday as a quiet recharging and centering day. I sure know that I could use some of those days from time to time, so I know that Al appreciates them as well. Alex's favorite 'recharging' activity is to bake, so we decided to make some cut-out sugar cookies as therapy. Between the measuring, cracking (yep, she cracks her own eggs now!), mixing, rolling, cutting and sprinkling, she transformed back into the happy, inquisitive girl we're all used to. I think it worked!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Hard Lesson to Learn

Alex was invited to Amelia's 2nd birthday party yesterday afternoon, and it started out as quite a fun event! Melissa and Jeff outdid themselves with party decorations and activities. Alex and Graham swang on the swings....Alex swang on the swings....Alex swang on the swings some more.... The trouble started when it was time for her to give someone else a turn. I think that the combination of a very busy past few days and a muggy afternoon was to blame for her turn in behavior. She chose not to follow directions, and we ended up having to regretfully leave the party early.(before the meltdown)

I think Alex learned a very important lesson about the importance of following directions. She was very sad about leaving the entire way home. I'm so lucky to have Dave as a parenting co-pilot. He didn't even blink when I said we would have to leave-- he totally understands the importance of following-through with a toddler. Hopefully these 'hard' days will be few and far between once she realizes that Mama and Daddy really mean what they say!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Simplifying the Closet

....I've been studying Simplicity Parenting since February, and have simplified Alex's room and the Playroom with ease. I decided that if I was going to accept S.P's offer to be a monthly guest blogger, I needed to finish the job...


To say I have a 'problem' with clothes is perhaps an understatement. I am proud to have paid retail prices for less than 25% of Alex's wardrobe, however I think this has also been my downfall. I love the thrill of the hunt-- the bargaining at a garage sale or the bidding over Ebay. I've also discovered the benefits of reselling quality clothes (I pretty much financed Alex's 2T-3T wardrobe with sales from her 24M stuff) and so am able to rationalize 'new' clothing purchases as an investment. I have to admit that I feel people judge me by what my daughter wears, and I want them to know that I take good care of her! Thus the glut of clothing...

As I read through Simplicity Parenting the first time I swallowed hard when realized that I had overstuffed Alex's closets. Especially when I began to monitor her clothing choices-- she only wanted to wear the comfy play clothes anyway (and who could blame her?).

"By simplifying clothes you ease transitions. You offer freedom from choice and overload, while still allowing for the slow and sure development of personal expression." (Kim John Payne)

While I still subscribe to the thought that I need to prepare my daughter for the 'real world', and instill a sense of pride through her appearance, there is no reason that a 2 1/2 year old needed literally seventy-five clothes hangers and 17 pairs of shoes in her closet. It was an overload of choices (and this is a representation of only her currently-fitting summer clothes- spring/winter/fall are in storage). So I attacked it.

BEFORE:


AFTER:
How I did it: I have not yet gotten rid of any clothes-- they are in 'clothing purgatory' in my studio (I know I'm lucky to have the extra room). This was really hard for me, as each purchase was a conquest, so I'm taking it in baby steps.

The criteria I gave myself:
-Alex only needs 2 fancy dress-up outfits. Pull the others
-Does it still have tags? (If so, pull it)
-Has she worn it in the past two months? (If not, pull it)
-Is it comfortable for play? (if not, pull it)
-Shoes: If they don't fit well, pull them. I am going to try to eventually whittle her shoe collection down to just the three pairs on the top shelf and 2 dress shoes.

We're down to 25 hangers and 10 pairs of shoes (plus 2 slippers)! Eventually I'll list the purged inventory on Ebay, but I'm just going to see if she can live with this. I'm sure she won't even notice-- that's the beauty of simplifying a crazy space...kids are so comforted to have some 'breathing space' that they don't worry about where the extra went!

This was our last purging job. I'm proud that I was able to rectify the chaos that I had created, and relieved to be able to give my daughter a calm environment in which to grown and learn. It will make the rhythm of our mornings smoother. "When you simplify a child's clothes, you simplify daily life" (Kim John Payne). That is our goal.

Friday, June 25, 2010

New animal friends at the Farm

Since we were in the general vicinity, Alex and I headed up to the Farm this morning to visit. She was amazed and delighted to find that Great Grandpa Ed had 35 new arrivals in his house...baby chicks who just arrived on the farm yesterday!
When she wasn't gazing adoringly at the chicks, she spent time playing with 'Fuzzy'. In fact, she even got to 'groom' him. The poor dog was basically huddled under Great-Grandpa's legs until he realized that Alex wasn't going to cause him any problems-- then he relaxed and let her gently scratch his back with his comb. He definitely earned an extra treat or two today!
One of Alex's favorite things to do is to hijack my camera and take photos. She's getting quite good at it. Here's her portrait of "Fuzzy".
Besides keeping herself entertained with new animal friends while my grandpa and I visited, she got to go and harvest the first strawberries of the season. Mmmm.... she got some juicy berries and good strawberry picking tips from Great Grandpa!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Magic of Placebos

We headed up North today to return Jay-Jay to his proper home. Alex did a great job on the car ride, and I think Jay now knows the entire soundtrack of Cinderella by heart. She was excited to see everyone at Auntie Robyn's house, but especially the bunnies. Lauren took some time to bring Alex out to the hutch to visit!

We did have a minor trauma last night, however...Alex was playing with a bedside lamp and touched the hot bulb, burning her index finger. It wasn't severe, but it was her first experience with a burn and she was not a happy camper. After cycling through running water, an ice cube, an ice pack and a Tucks pad (don't ask....we were looking for anything), it seemed that she was more upset than hurt. In a brilliant stroke of parenting genius, I gave her half a teaspoon of Pepto-Bismol as a placebo (I didn't have any Children's Tylenol with me...) and she settled down almost immediately. Ah....motherhood.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cooling off in the basement!

We've been sans-air conditioner for WAAY too long now, and luckily the weather hasn't been too hot. Today was the exception-- it was steamy and humid, so we hung out in the basement and played with Alex's toys for most of the day. For a treat we went out and got Subway for lunch and picnicked in the playroom!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jay-Jay

My cousin Jay came from the Northland down to spend a mini-vacation with us for the week, and for an extra-special treat (read: Alex has NEVER done this in her life), we went to the Mall of America to spend some quality time at Nickelodeon Universe.
It was crawling with characters, none of which Alex really knew-- she liked Dora's monkey, but didn't really care much for the ubiqutous 'Dora the Explorer'. There was also a penguin with a propeller hat walking around who garnered a bit of interest... We did end up with a pair of SpongeBob socks as a souvenir (basically because socks were required for the bounce house).My girl, did, however, thoroughly prove herself to be an adrenaline junkie. The mini rollercoaster (pictured above) was her absolute favorite. It probably didn't hurt that her favorite 'big guy' Jay was along for all the rides....

Monday, June 21, 2010

What the Fairies Left...

Alex ran to the backyard first thing today to find what the fairies left her. They had deposited a huge package (in comparison to their tiny house) as a 'thank you' for the nights' lodging.
She brought it inside so that Daddy could help her read the note, which read "Alexandra- Thank you so much for the house and food. We fairies have been watching you, and have noticed that you like gymnastics. Hopefully you enjoy practicing in your new leotard!"

Coincidentally, today was Dave's actual birthday, but since we'd celebrated so hard during the weekend, the poor guy was sidelined by the Fairies..... what a Dad!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fairy Houses

Today is not only Father's Day, but also Midsummer's Eve (isn't Dave lucky?), so we spent the morning building a few fairy houses. I've heard that if we build them a nice house, and leave them a few bites to eat they might reciprocate by leaving a gift in the morning!Great-Aunt Robyn and Jay really got into the project. Alex had a lot of fun building and imagining--

Searching for just the right decorations...
Jay's fairy 'trap'...
A proud Alex!

Happy Father's Day


We started this morning's celebration by making blueberry muffins for Daddy. I realize now that I've been quite a negligent mother-- we've never made muffins before! In fact, Alex was quite confused as to why we were making cupcakes for breakfast.... this added to the general confusion about Daddy's birthday (technically Monday) and Father's Day all wrapped into one!We had a bunch of guests over for a fantastic Father's Day lunch. Brad brought the meat (and meat there was...), Auntie Carrie was hanging out, and then we got to some relatives from the Northland-- Great-Auntie Robyn, and Cousins Lauren and Jay came down as well! (Jay is going to be spending the week at Camp Marotz, learning all about computer stuff from Dave...)
Exploring the wide world of pyrotechnics with Daddy and Cousin Jay... Thanks for the sparklers, Brad :-)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Daddy's 30th Birthday Dinner!

To start celebrating Daddy's Birthday (the 21st), we surprised him with a mini-dinner party at his favorite pizza place (Paradise Pizza & Grill for those of you in the South Metro). I failed to take photos during the 'event', but here's a picture of two tired but full girls following dinner. We started at 5:30 and didn't leave the parlor until 7:20-ish. Thanks Brad, Carrie, Melissa, Jeff and Amelia for coming! We had a lot of fun.

Since Brad is coming over to our house tomorrow to grill out for Father's Day, his bear 'Ted' got to come for a sleepover with Alex. She was so excited to bring him home in her carseat and kept commenting "He's so soft. He's Miss Kitty's big brother. What a nice bear!" Ted, however, was deemed "too puffy" to sleep with Alex in her bed, so he spent a relaxing night in the rocking chair.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Polliwogs & Frogs

We headed back to the Carpenter Nature Center for June's storytime. They do such a fantastic job every month! Today's theme was 'Ponds', and after listening to a story about who lives around a pond, the kids were able to go out to the little man-made pond next to the center to observe and explore.
Guess who we found!
The place was swarming with tadpoles (or 'polliwogs'-- just because that's a cool word) in all stages of development. Alex wasn't too keen on touching them, but they were very cool to watch!
The other neat experience we got in today was a bald eagle release by the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. They just happened to be at the Nature Center at the beginning of storytime, so we all got to go quietly outside and witness this guy's release into the wild (he'd been convalescing at the RC after a nasty encounter with a truck). Not something you get to see everyday!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dandelion Bouquet

One of the sweetest sights of summer... Alex and I decided to take full advantage of the beautiful morning and go for a long walk / trike ride. Along the way, she stopped to gather up some golden blossoms, which now reside in a vase on our kitchen table (at least until the cats notice them). After all the recent rainy indoor time, this was the perfect way to start a gorgeous summer day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Surprise for Alex!

Alex woke up to a surprise this morning. Last night, when she was in bed, a very special pakage was delivered to our house from Wisconsin... Great-Aunt Sarah, Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Marotz had sent Alex a box packed full of toys, books, and puzzles that Papa Bob used to play with when he was a boy.


I have to admit that I couldn't contain myself, and Dave and I went through the treasure trove last night. What wonderful things awaited Alex in that large box on the table. She was very excited to see what was in it.

video

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Alexandra got right to work playing with the blocks and the lacing shoe (complete with The Little Old Woman & family). You can tell that these toys have been loved and played with-- what an unbelievable addition to Alex's collection! Some of these toys and puzzles are definitely collector's items, and they will be well taken care of and played with under supervision, of course.



Some of our favorites:

Holgate lacing shoe...

Holgate stacking train

Sifo 'Mailbag of Blocks' - manufactured in St. Paul, MN


Puzzles-- both wooden ones by Sifo and some character ones-- Roy Rogers and an old Woody Woodpecker to name a few!

Vintage 'peek-a-boo blocks'....some have moving parts!

Little Golden Books- copyright 1954


Antique wooden alphabet blocks....if you look closely you'll see some have Disney characters on them- Dumbo, Bambi, Tinkerbell!
As Alex said in the earlier video- "Thank You, Great Grandma" (and Great-Grandpa and Great-Auntie!!) We are so excited to start making our own special playtime memories with these beautiful family heirlooms!