That was a long vacation. After 11 days off they are now back in school and it is just Fiona and I again in our normal Tuesday.
I actually spent quite a bit of time with just Fiona at the waterpark since Niamh and Zoe have passed the height mark that lets them do nearly everything and Lars is the parent that prefers the crazy slides, so Fiona and I kept to the tame things. Niamh also was at the great personal level of being allowed to be solo in the park as long as we had a good idea of where she was. Mental note for next time – buy inexpensive waterproof watches for all, meeting at certain times is very hard when there are no clocks. Since only the inside was open, and, it was very not crowded we could usually find everyone easily enough but the outdoor section is 2x the inside so if we do this again in the summer electric leashes are needed.
After the first day, Fiona tried a big raft ride (3 stories high) and LOVED it. Even after the 50th time she was still a giant grin. I risked my phone to take pictures on the way down. There were 2 other similar ones she also loved as well as well as an entire ‘island’ of slides and play things intended just for people 100lb and less. I made her go there a few times so I could have a little rest sitting on the side. Since I thought I would be doing nothing but sitting and watching her paddle, this was a big surprise.
The resort itself was mostly well done. I appreciated their efforts to make inside seem like outside because it is a long winter inside. The hotel itself has plenty of open walkways that make you feel like you are walking ‘outside’.
The downside is that in the winter, there isn’t quite enough for more than 2 days and since we were there for 3 we ended up paying for the attached (but not included) amusement park. Here is where Fiona got the worst end, she was too short for most of the fun stuff so we left her sisters and went on long pokiwalks and disrupted (not really) a conference of farmers learning about seeds and stuff (I assume, we didn’t actually attend). We also had coffee and donuts by the fountain – the kalahari had very good sweet shops all over the lobby.
We got back in town just in time for our friends to have their baby. Since we were not part of the production, we just got to be around for the fun after part where you get to snuggle a teeeeeeny tiny baby and reassure the new parents that they are the best parents for this baby, and, they have the most experience with him because they have been with him for 9 months already. I also got to run them down a nice dinner the next day and be on hand for the first at home diaper change – the thrills in my life never end 😉
I’m glossing over the annoying bits of the break like the fact that even if we are on vacation, I get woken up by 7am and often 1 or 2 times a night. Travel went well overall but I always get home more tired than if I had just stayed home. Time change weekend did not help at all because my normal 5 hours of sleep got shrunk to 4 and by the end of that day I was sick of it all and needed a break from it all. The super power of motherhood is the ability to find a way through the day because I did make it all the way through that final day and today, there is semi-normal life.
ps. In case you are new to my vacations – I go with a fellow mom and her son and sometimes we take Lars. Two moms are better than one
pps. Possibly the best thing was the huge number of pokimon, I could even get a pokistop from bed!
ppss. Happy pi day, I’m making some pie later I think but can’t not mark the date.
This year, I’m not sure if because it is a Tuesday or what, I’m not doing as much as usual. I’m actually not even going to see Lars because tonight is the SCA kids practice and also my PTO meeting so we will be in opposite directions until about 8:30. After that we plan on a nice take out sushi dinner but really, I don’t doubt his love in general.
I did have fun with valentines for the kids. I took a cue from all the cute photo strips we have as favors from recent weddings and decided to DIY one. The internet is full of other people who thought of this first but this is how I did it;
- Took a ton of pictures of each girl holding a dry erase board where they wrote each part of the message. Take A LOT because half of them will be too silly or full of frowns
- cropped them to be square in my computer
- used the collage option to line up the 4 pictures in a strip. I choose to have white borders on a pink background. You can also do this in excel, sometimes it is easier in excel!
- Sent the image to our local UPS store and then talked to them so they knew what I wanted, and, printing is one of those things personal attention is worth doing.
- Paid a whole $10 for 35 strips (2×8 if you are looking for dimensions) for each of the kids. That is $10 for 105 strips total.
- Cut up some pretty washi tape so the kids could tape on pencils (totally optional)
- They wrote names and taped pencils no problem and it only took about 20min
I love that getting them printed is so economical because I figure I would have spent $3 per ‘kit’ at walmart and I would have needed 4 at least since they are usually only 24 so I’m saving money, and, it is something I get to keep and love. I know, there is a ton of time involved between taking pictures and edits but for me, that is the fun part. This didn’t even need hot glue so I consider it an easy one.
Finally, I must add a new addition to the valentines traditions. Apparently, as they get older, the valentines box becomes homework, and Niamh had her heart set on a Giraffe valentines mailbox. It is a STEM school and I like that they described this as a building project and include the design-refine-spend time method. I talked her out of having the mouth be the mail slot because… engineering… but I do like the final result. It could be better but she procrastinated until yesterday afternoon to even start and I refused to do it without her (because I wanted her to do it over the weekend when we had time).
So I hope you all have nice days and nights and a pleasant February 14th in general.
This weekend I had the most random of lists of things to bring to the SCA event;
- 200 boxes of girl scout cookies, and, 2 girls to sell them, and all the ‘stuff’ that goes with selling cookies
- A tunic I made for a friend
- A set of flower girl dresses, and, 2 girls to wear them
- A form someone needed
I also brought all the normal stuff like lunch and outfits etc but it was a very multifunctional day.
The most odd item is the flower girl dresses, because, SCA events tend to focus on an era where brides didn’t even wear white and there were no such notions as flower girls HOWEVER a photographer friend is launching his site and does NOT want to do wedding photography. He did want a cute way to say that though, cute and also very clear, because brides to get rather persistent… Anyway, his vision was cute flower girls being a little sassy and holding signs that said ‘nope’ and ‘sorry’. We did this mini photoshoot in the end of a hallway by the bathroom with his studio lights and a backdrop all set up in less time than it took for me to put the girls into their dresses. He also provided props and I just love the results!
The funny side of this, beyond the pictures, is that they were posted on facebook, so I could see them, but, that meant that all my other friends could see them and the ‘why’ of the situation is not very clear. I started thinking from an outside point of view and my brain started churning out ideas for these images beyond their real purpose.
- They could be a very simple meme – like when I just don’t wanna anymore I will just post the ‘nope’ picture
- We can also launch a line of demented cards for when you can’t figure out how to decline a proposal – send a nice ‘nope’ card.
3. Finally, if you miss declining early and need to leave someone at the alter – just post this ‘Nope’ plus ‘sorry’ picture and all thats left is the crying. Adding the sorry is just polite at that point.
In my life revolving around trying to not have the house fall down around us, I try and make time for some fun photo projects. I know it seems a bit over the top to do personalized cards for the kids, but, really they are for me. It is a good yearly chance to take pictures of them as they grow.
This weekend we have 2 photo goals;
- a ‘Thank You’ card for selling cookies. I think people enjoy getting a token from the kids they are supporting. Girl Scout Cookies are more or less their own reward, but, the fact you are helping kids should make you feel good too. I also like that I have a picture per year of them in their vests and it also gives me a deadline to sew on all the patches.
- Valentines card pictures. Again, I know, the 2.99 box from WalMart would be fine and that is all they are going to get in return (worse then christmas cards) BUT I seriously love the cards from last year and have had them by my bed for the past year.
However! My kids are not models and I’m not a real photographer. I end up getting frustrated and my lighting semi stinks and I hear myself getting mad that they won’t smile ‘right’ for me and so I end up just trying to ‘go with it’.
And so here is what you get when you let a cranky 4 year old pick how she will hold the sign…
part of me thinks I should use it anyway, but, I did get a more traditional one too. I’ll be working on it today and see how it looks. The inspiration this year is like a photobooth strip, it will be 4 square pictures in a strip that say ‘happy’-valentine’s-‘day’-‘name’ so this is just 1 of 4… She does have cute feet.
So that is my plan for this SuperBowl Sunday. I’m going to go workout like normal, come home and feed kids, put them to bed and then make cute cards.
I’m talking about a game, Ticket to Ride, not an actual outing.
We call it the train game because, you know, it is all about trains! And when your kids can’t read yet, whatever is on the cover becomes the name of the game.
Officially, this game is for ages 8+ (now they actually have a kids version, this is a modification of the original). When we got it was my job as game-mom to find a way to play with (2,4,6 year old) kids. It actually was VERY EASY to modify
In ticket to ride, the main action is collecting cards of different colors that you use to make routes between cities, some routes are ‘any color’ (gray) or a specific color as shown on the map. There are points earned for completing routes and more points for bigger routes. There are also specific route cards (tickets) you are dealt like “NewYork to Seattle” that give you MORE points if you complete. This is a fun game for adults but for kids it has some really great skills that can be learned;
- color matching
- counting – both for how many cards you need in a route, and, in scoring
- minor geography – unlike Pandemic, these cities are pretty much where they should be so learning where NY and Seattle and Dallas are in the US is a good thing to get a head start on.
- Strategy/map reading – you need to plan your route, in an era of GPS I need ways to teach this.
- general sportsmanship, the game has a score and you need to be ok with that. <- some adults need lessons here too
My Theory on game modification;
- I want the kids to be able to play the ‘real’ version when they are able so I can’t change too many rules
- I want to keep the spirit of the game
- I want them to be able to play independently so I made two levels of modifications
Modification for ages 4-7 (before good reading skills)
- Each child gets a different coin (or other marker) that gets placed on the cities they are building routes between. yes, this eliminates the secrecy of what your route might be, but, see my next modification…
- Play open hand, show all the cards and be kind about placing routes
- That’s it, play as normal, kids are pretty good at turn taking and card collecting.
*Sometimes if attention is waning we just say we are playing ‘first to 100’ so in that case we get the points for route completing right away, or, we put a time limit and score at the end of 20 minutes.
I’ve found that other than reading level, games have age minimums based on ability to pay attention for any length of time, not intelligence for the game dynamic.
Modification for under 4 (but old enough not to eat the pieces)
- throw out the concept of special routes and just collect cards and connect cities. Still gets the color matching, card collecting, and fine motor coordination.
2. give them all the extra trains and let them make patterns on the table. You would be amazed how well they like that. They can also be ‘in charge’ of putting out the next card, or, you can give them the discards to shuffle until you need them again.
I believe in family games and time together and with just a few modifications most games can suit most little pre-readers. Now that the kids are older they are wicked good at this game and you might think I coddled them with kind playing, some innate competition gene is expressed as they cut off off each other and see the value of getting a contested section of track asap just like any adult. Give it a try with your younger kids!
Donate to my kids read-a-thon!
This is a program that I actually believe in enough to post. The school retains 80% of donations and the kids get decent prizes. (So many fundraisers keep up to 50%, those I don’t really bother with)
School is also getting behind this one because it is actually educational, unlike selling wrapping paper etc where you have to squint and say “they learn about money and change…maybe?”. Every couple days they have an extra fun thing for reading during the read-a-thon.
The last day is Thursday so if you feel like donating to a good cause; ie – the PTO that funds the extras that make school fun, consider clicking and donating for one of the kids (or all three!)
I have no idea if putting this out to you all will work at all, but, you can’t say yes if I never ask!