Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

As you can probably imagine, it's pretty wet here in Mississippi. We've had some pretty impressive storms lately, and I have to say it's a VERY good thing that nobody in our family is upset by thunder or lightning. We've had some storms that had the windows and doors in our apartment rattling in their frames. 
We had one of these storms a few days ago, right as Ethan got home from school. Of course, being the sensible creature that he is, he grabbed the camera and headed right back outside into the middle of all the action. He got some great pictures so we could show everyone what a little drizzly Mississippi rain is like. A day or two later we all went out for a walk to get some pictures of what it looks like on a  non-rainy day so you could have something to compare it to. 
This is Ethan standing in the middle of the road with water up to his ankles.
The water drains off the road into this little ditch that runs along the back side of our apartment complex. 

Here we are walking along the little wall next to the ditch., headed away from the road you saw in the previous picture. 

Looking back up the ditch. 

After the ditch passes our apartment, it joins in with a bigger one that crosses through this culvert under the main road. 

It just doesn't look quite so cool on a dry day. 

Ethan and Erik checking out the ditch.
As our walk was coming to a close, we turned Erik loose and just let him decide where to go. He wanted to sit and stomp his feet on this staircase for a long time. He thought it was the funniest thing EVER.

Yes, he's WALKING! Nothing is safe anymore, this kid can go anywhere he wants, any time he wants, so watch out!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I officially announce the launching of my new blog, Playing to Learn. It will be a chronicle of our every day learning adventures with Erik and Paisley as my test subjects. This way all the family stuff will stay here on this blog, and all the school stuff will be in it's own space. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Blog?

So it has been suggested by an incredible brilliant and adorable person that maybe I should start a separate blog for our learning activities so that people interested in more personal stuff don't have to wade through the kid stuff and vice versa. I think this is an awesome idea and was totally going to do that today, but then I discovered that all the cute names I could come up with for my blog were already taken, which makes me more than a little grumpy! I would feel less grumpy if they were taken by people who have used them well and made great blogs, but they are all either in Polish, Russian, or have one post to introduce their blog (that was posted 6-10 years ago) and nothing new since then. Seriously. I just spent something like 5 whole minutes typing in every cute blog name I could think of and they were all taken by crappy nothing blogs.
Why am I whining to you all about this (all being the 3 people who will actually read this)? Well, I would love to hear any ideas for blog names that you can suggest. Leave a comment if you think of something awesome, or okay, or even lame. You don't have to go check and make sure it's not taken, I can do that part. Just shoot some ideas my way please!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Water Play

It was such a beautiful day the other day, we decided to take our play learning outside. Come on, could you resist this? We love the way our "front yard" looks this time of year. The best part of it is that we don't have to worry about the maintenance. 
While it looks gorgeous, it was still quite warm outside so I thought playing in water might be just the thing. I stripped Erik down to his diaper (because I'm lazy and didn't want any extra laundry), then we took a large pitcher of water outside, along with lots of bowls and cups and other fun things that would work to play with water. The idea was to just let Erik play around with the water, see if he would pour it out of the containers, etc. He mostly just wanted to splash. He hasn't really grasped the concept that the water reacts to his actions yet. Thus this activity! In hind sight, I should have started more simply with one big bowl of water and one cup or bowl for him to play with. I showed him how to scoop up the water and pour it back out, but he was too excited by all the fun stuff to really care about what I was doing. This is definitely one we will be revisiting, probably often, at least until the weather gets too cool. 

This activity is a great one for several reasons. It helps with hand-eye coordination, as well as understanding spacial relations. It's a great sensory activity to feel the wet and cold water and builds vocabulary when you talk about what it feels like and what the water's doing when he's splashing and pouring. And it gets you out of the house!
The idea for this activity came from here, where you'll find many more fun things like this.

Maybe the biggest problem with this activity was that Erik was way too excited about being outside to want to sit still. He was way more interested in dragging his little naked knees across the rough sidewalk to go exploring. I guess we need to make a point of getting outside more often.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Playing to Learn

Several different factors have influenced me to focus a little more on making sure Erik is surrounded by opportunities to learn and grow. This has prompted me to make some changes in our daily life, which will also be reflected in my blog.
The aftermath of edible finger painting in the bathtub.
     I recently started babysitting a young infant for a friend who has to go back to her full time job. This means that from the time Erik wakes up in the morning until the middle of the afternoon, he has to share me with our new little friend, PJ. He's not used to not being the center of my attention, and it has been a bit of an adjustment for everyone. I try really hard to make sure that he gets plenty of attention during the day, but I also decided that I was going to make the few hours we have alone in the afternoon into something special. I've been trying really hard to make sure we have good quality one on one time every afternoon. Some days this means doing something new that we've never tried before, and other days it means I just make sure that we spend a few extra minutes playing with his cars, or blocks, or whatever he's interested in.
    Like many of us, I like to look around on pinterest, and often come across cute little ideas for teaching kids their letters, or numbers, or reading, or whatever. I was thinking to myself the other day that I was so excited for some day when Erik's big enough to do those things, and then it hit me; I have a college degree in early childhood education. I went to school to learn how to teach infants and toddlers. Why do I have to wait until he's big enough to learn his ABC's, I know there is so much more that has to come before he can do that, so why am I not doing it! Maybe I could actually apply all that I learned, and make a difference in my child's life. DUH! Wow, I'm really bright, huh? So, I decided then and there to put my college degree to use. I've been reading my old textbooks again, and scouring the internet and the library for ideas, and have a good little list of things I want to try with Erik. I'm also going to be working on new activities for PJ, but for now she's pretty small, and her activities include things like tracking an object back and forth as it moves, not exactly something that needs a whole blog post to itself. As she gets bigger and I come up with things for her that some one else might enjoying reading about, those may get posted on here too.
    I'm going to start doing regular posts about the things I do with Erik and PJ, hopefully once a week, but we'll see. I will post links to these activities on my new Playing to Learn page, so you they can always be found easily. I also plan to have a list of links to different websites that I have found useful in planning things to do with little kids, so anyone who's interested can look for more ideas to try. Hope you enjoy our learning activities play time. The first Playing to Learn activity is scheduled to be posted tomorrow morning, so come back and check it out!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Erik's 1st Birthday!

July 21st was Erik's first birthday. I just can't believe that my little guy is already that old! He is getting so darn big! Erik is walking now (about 65% of the time at least), has said a few words, and knows a little bit of sign language. He can make a block tower three blocks tall (I know it probably doesn't sound impressive, but he sure is proud of himself), and loves to make car noises for any wheeled toy he plays with. He's got a mouth full of teeth, and loves to show them off in a big toothy grin. In case you couldn't tell, we sure love him lots!
 We made chocolate cake with chocolate and peanut butter frosting. YUMMY! I baked the little cake for Erik in a tin can, so that he could have his own little tiny cake. It worked great and was so cute!

 Erik can't stand to be the only one eating. He loves trying to convince us to eat what's on his high chair tray.

 We have a tradition in our little family that everyone gets a book for their birthday and for Christmas. Erik helped us choose this particular book, he loves the big googly eyes on it!
 I know he didn't understand that there was stuff inside those packages, but he was still so excited to see them.

 This car is by far the biggest favorite of the birthday presents. He plays with it constantly! Thanks Blaine (aka Nate and Kate)!!

 His other favorite thing was the balloons that we had laying around He played with those for days afterwords.

 He loves to give hugs. Even the balloon got one!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Our Stay in Stanley, NM

Our week in Stanley was so much fun. We spent lots of time sitting around visiting and eating yummy things and just really enjoying being surrounded by the people we love. Erik loved all the snacks and the dogs and the toys, he was pretty happy here. One of his favorite treats was the watermelon Grandma Mower and bought. He'd never had it before, and he just went to town on it. 

At both grandparents' houses, Erik loved the piano. I can't wait until someday I get to have my piano in our home so he can learn to really love it.

Grandma Kathy sure enjoyed her snuggle time with Erik. He's not a super snugly guy, but he did consent to spend some time in the rocking chair.
Some of Erik's other favorite activities were eating...
and playing on the slide outside the public library. He LOVES to slide!
We were headed into Albuquerque and decided to make a quick email stop at the public library. It was really fun to go there, and really weird to have Erik in tow, because this is the library both Ethan and I grew up going to. Erik found a big bin of board books, and made a beeline straight for it.
Of course, he wasn't particularly interested in reading the books, his goal was to take every single one out and throw it on the floor. We decided after that it was time to head over to play with the toy train until everyone else was ready to go.

It was so strange to be sitting and playing trains with Erik here, this room is where all my favorite books were as a kid (actually, they're still there), and I spent a lot of time in here.
Ethan's dad, Kerry, raises sheep and has for a long time. This was the first time I've gotten to watch him work with them though, so that was really fun. He shears his sheep (and actually gets hired to do other people's too) the traditional way, with blades instead of clippers. I got to watch him do two lambs in preparation for the county fair this weekend, and it was really fascinating. It was so funny looking to see the lamb sitting on it's bum for it's "hair cut" without doing any of the thrashing or fighting I was expecting. In fact, now as I'm typing this, I think maybe I should've had Kerry teach me some of his holds for Erik's next haircut!

The sheep dogs were so cool to watch. They were right there, just waiting for that lamb to make a wrong move so they'd have an excuse to do their thing. I got to watch Dad herd the sheep with the dogs, and it was so cool! I didn't get any pictures though, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
Erik wasn't particularly interested in the sheep shearing, but he was really enjoying playing outside. As I've said before, dirt is not something you see too much of in Mississippi, and he LOVED it!

Dirt and dogs, life doesn't get any better than this! Erik loved the dogs so much that on one of our last mornings there, he said his first word. "DOG"
Kerry works for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and for part of his job he was trapping and banding doves the whole week we were there. I went out with him and Ethan one afternoon to see what they were up to.
And of course the dogs came too. Aren't Ethan and Hope so cute!

The dogs were just way too interested in the birds, so I did what I could to keep them out of the way for a few minutes while Dad and Ethan cataloged and banded the doves.

After taking care of the birds, Ethan and Dad tried out one of Ethan's new guns. If I were really cool I could tell you all about the pistol they're shooting, but about all I remember is that it's a Glock (I think)
While they were doing there thing I wandered around and looked at the old fallen down homestead we were at, and took some pictures and looked for cool old stuff. I just love the wide open spaces here, what a view!
After I'd walked around for a while, I decided to find a spot where I could sit and watch the guys shoot. I saw a hunk of cement a little ways away and thought that it looked like a good place to sit. When I got over to it I just had to laugh. Don't you think it looks like it would make a good place to sit? I'd had no idea what it was before I got close to it, and it was just too funny to realize what it was. I must say, I don't think I've ever seen a toilet made out of cement before.
The week we spent here was so relaxing and so nice, I can't wait until we move back out west someday and we can do this more often. Erik needs more time like this with his Grandma and Grandpa!