Sunday, February 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Ethan!

This video is so funny! You can hear the bulldozer make noise as I take it to the table! Thanks to Becca, we have video of Ethan's special day!

Fun + Family + Friends = One Fantastic Birthday Party

Today was such a blast that Dave and I haven't stopped talking about it all evening. Today we celebrated Ethan's 2nd birthday with a Construction Party. All last week we were preparing for Ethan's birthday party. Ethan helped with projects and he knew where we were putting his party things. He knew he couldn't play with it because it was "for his birthday party."

We knew with church today that we would have to set everything up the night before. Dave was a little worried that Ethan would get into everything this morning and to be honest so was I. But I hoped that the same "don't touch, it's for your birthday party" would work like it did all week. Sure enough, Ethan was so surprised when he woke up this morning but he didn't touch anything when I used the same excuse!

After church, Becca came over to help set up everything else while Ethan took his nap. She got some great shots of all the centers we set up for the party.

PVC Fun was a bucket of water with yellow food coloring to go with our theme. It's great to take the pieces apart and put them together again. I loved watching the kids play with them like they would with legos.

How do you like our green & red paint with wood chips for snacks?

I got this idea here

I would sooo do this again! It was way worth the time cutting out scraps of fabric! Ethan helped me with making his "flags." When he woke up this morning he ran into the kitchen, looked up, and said, "Woooow! Flags!" I really want to do this re-usable project instead of streamers that I end up just throwing away! Way more Eco-friendly, don't you think?

Ok... I had the brilliant idea to use a plastic construction hat as a Jell-O mold, but when we put it on the plate it looked more like a bicycle helmet. Five minutes later it collapsed! So funny anyway! I mean what am I really going to do with six boxes of lemon Jell-O? Sometimes my brilliant ideas are just hilarious memories!

Thanks to Dave, we found an ice cream cake that Ethan wasn't allergic to. I had pre-bought a construction bulldozer for the top. I didn't know until today that it made noise. So great!

Family started to arrive and the party got started with Ethan still in bed. Josh and Becca were there setting up the food that they helped bring (as Dave says, "Was super yummy!"). Then the birthday boy woke up, saw ALL of his friends, and was ready to PLAY!

I was so excited to get my construction cars out of my teaching supplies and put them into the sensory table with cornmeal. It was such a surprise for Ethan since he had never done this activity before. Plus, I forgot that I had a couple of "Bob the Builders" in with the cars! Ethan was so excited!

A big hit!

Our game was "Tool Box Bingo." Each card was a pattern of a tool box and Becca cut and glued the tools onto the tool boxes. We used Monopoly houses as markers. In the end everyone is a winner and gets a goodie bag.

We sang "Happy Birthday" and I realized that we hadn't practiced blowing out the candle this week. No matter as long as he gets cake in the end!

I love this picture that Dave took. He always gets those great ones of me being "dramatic." This tractor is the one Grandma and Grandpa got him.

I think this is the photo Dave caught Ethan reading the tag on the package. He said it said "Sarah" when it really said "Josh."

He loved the book the Starkey family gave him!

Tammy got Ethan this really awesome Planet Earth Sticker Book which, as you can tell, he is going to love!
After the party it was such easy clean up... pick up the table cloths and throw them away. Honest! It was such a beautiful day and so much fun. I had such a blast with no stress in it at all. It was so natural just to have centers and places where the kids, parents, and other family could just have a good time! Dave and I both sat down afterwards and agreed that the day will forever be a fantastic memory!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The End Result Was A Good Time

This week I have been busy with so many projects! I have been preparing for Ethan's birthday party this weekend. Along with the birthday plans I have been staying up late sewing my little fingers to the bone. There is something strange about Dave's family. There are eight birthdays in February and March! Ethan is the only boy! So, I just decided that everyone gets a doll!

While I am busy making 7 girls a doll, I have added another four to my list. Two are for a set of twins in California and the other two are for my best friend. For those who know me, know I have a best friend who doesn't really consider me as her best friend. That's because she is six years old. How many six year olds do you know have a thirty year old as their best friend? That's what I thought. My little friend, Alyssa, has a best friend who is five years old. They do everything together. They even have shoes that are alike! This week her friend has been very sick possibly with a disease. I want to make two dolls that look like Alyssa and her friend and have Alyssa help stuff her friend's doll. Please be in prayer for Alyssa's friend...

Ethan and I have kept our daily schedule filled with fun games and activities. Monday was our sensory activity using shaving cream. This has got to be the most fun Ethan has had at craft time! I knew what to expect and it was exactly as I thought. When I taught preschool, I would bring out the first sensory activity in class and the children would flip out, cry, or refuse participation. There is something wrong about touching something that won't come off quick enough!

To prepare for this activity, I brought in Ethan's small craft table into the kitchen. Mom bought this table (with two chairs) at a garage sale. I love that woman!

I wrap the table with plastic wrap and tape the ends to the table. This saves so much time with clean up. I remember the days that I would be washing the table over and over again, with the shaving cream never wanting to come off! What a mess!

Then, I take shaving cream and put it into a recycled container and add three drops of food coloring. We used red. I am allergic to some scents and so I always use fruit scented shaving cream. The house will smell like whatever you use for quite some time, so I make sure I use something I won't react to. Then, I let Ethan have a blast with it!

I love this reaction! "What is this?"

A familiar face during the first sensory time.

He kept on saying "Dirty!"

Get it off! Get it off!
My battery died on my camera right after this shot. Bummer. Later, he realized you could slide it around and then write letters on the table! He really loved reading his, Dad's, and Mom's name. When he was all done I just washed him up and took the plastic wrap off the table and threw it in the trash. Simple as that. The end result was a good time!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's in the Game

Today it was all about games and crafts! When I taught preschoolers I found out that as long as I had a name for my game, it was cool. I am not kidding. For example, I always tested the children twice a year to see what skills they needed to work on. Of course the children never knew that. They loved the game "Climb the Mountain" aka. "Check to see if you can alternate feet on the stairs." See? "Climb the Mountain" is way cooler!

This game is called "Heart Hop." I pre-cut hearts out and taped them to the floor. I love this hopping ball from Target. It is really only for 2-4 year olds; it is a lot smaller than the ones I am use to. But, these balls are getting more popular now and easier to find in stores. I also get out my large dice bought from a teacher's supply store. It is a must have!

To play this game, I roll the dice (a little hard for Ethan to being he is on the hopper about now) and Ethan counts how many dots he rolled. Then, he hops that many hearts until the finish line! We always have music playing in the background so that Ethan knows it is "game time." When the music is off, he knows it is time to slow down and stop.

Later, we played "Valentine Twist." I bought crepe paper at the Dollar Tree. It comes in a two pack. Who can beat 50 cents for a roll of crepe paper? I cut three pieces, fold them, and staple them together. Don't make them too long - believe me, it wasn't too long ago that 15 kids were crying at my side because someone stepped on their streamers.

Play your favorite Valentine song and let your child loose to twist and dance away! Pause the music and have them "freeze." Then start the music up again to boogie woogie once more!

In the afternoon we had our craft time. I wanted Ethan to make a craft that he can give away tomorrow while we are out on our errands. We have been learning about how to share our love and kindness with others. I found these great craft foam die cuts in my stash. I remember using them during Easter many years ago. You could easily trace your little person's hand on craft foam (also found affordable at the Dollar Tree). I had these self-adhesive pin backs from Christmas and bought a large pack at Walmart.

Craft foam will not stick with regular Elmer's Glue. Use a light heat glue gun for this project. You will thank me in the end! We glued the fingers down to make the ASL sign for "love."

Ethan then placed all the pin backs on the craft foam hands. Yes, the pins are not stuck on straight. But, what would this craft mean to Ethan if I took the pin off and stuck it on straight? Be proud of what your child does - even if it isn't what we as adults think is perfect! I would have to say that when someone puts on this crooked pin they will think, "Ethan thought of me" Not, "Wow, Jen made a cute little craft." Cause it's not about us... it is about showing our love and kindness to others.

We printed out Signing Time Valentines and practiced cutting for the first time. I am laughing in this picture cause all Ethan was saying was, "Rachel, Alex, Leah, Hopkins!" Not bad for the first time! We really need to work on those little fingers! ;) Then Ethan kept on saying, "Princess Leia" and we realized that he probably thinks that Leah (from Signing Time), Leia (our Worship Team Leader), and Princess Leia (his McDonld's Star Wars bath toy) are all the same person. We really need to get rid of that bath toy...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's the Beginning of Something Great

We have had an eventful weekend. Our weekends don't really start until Saturday evening when Dave comes home from work. Dave's back was a little sore from Friday's work but that didn't stop him from doing a light saber tutorial with Ethan. Dave is really good at flipping and swinging that thing. Ethan had a turn with his Yoda light saber, the perfect size for my little Jedi. Ethan was really doing a good job trying to flip it in his hand... He so wanted to be like Dad.

Sunday morning started with sock nun-chucks and Ethan squealing around the house. Then we went to church and I have to tell you how awesome it was on Sunday! I mean... it is the first time in my life that I have begun to see revival in a church that I have been a part of for years! It is amazing to see lives of people I know being changed! People are so filled with the Holy Spirit that they are practically skipping down the halls! Seriously! The Lord's presence was there during worship and there were tears in people's eyes when I read the scripture for worship. It was so moving! After service, Becca and Josh came and picked up Ethan because we had our first staff meeting since we started in leadership.

Dave, Pastor Paul, and Gary made an amazing BBQ lunch while we got started. They came out with BBQ wings and soda as an appetizer and then went back into the kitchen and made BBQ chicken, rice, jalapeno bread and honeydew. It looked good... I didn't taste it cause I was doing the presentation. I am not kidding... the Lord just spoke through me and you should of seen the faces of the teachers! They were on the edge of their seats - encouraged and blessed! We played an icebreaker, a game from this Spring's curriculum, and I demonstrated one of the Bible lessons for May. Teachers were sharing how God was moving in their lives, in their children's lives, and in their family! There were tears and laughter... it was incredible. I am so excited to see what God has planned for this spring! It is going to be life changing!

Monday, the weather started to get colder, so we knew that the sun wasn't out for long. We took Ethan to the park down the street to play ball. While we were walking Dave jumped to throw the basketball and when he landed his back went out! He was in so much pain that he went into the doctor the next morning. The doctor has Dave on medication and a no work release for at least a week. If he isn't feeling better within a week he has to go in for x-rays and physical therapy.

The medication Dave is on keeps him awake and moving... well, slowly ;) Just yesterday Dave fixed the broken dresser drawer, fixed a broken light fixture, cleaned out all the cupboards in the kitchen and pantry, and baked banana bread. That was all before 1pm when he entertained the two church members visiting to pray for him! Ha! Sorry, did I just laugh with my outside voice? (Cough! Cough!) Poor guy. Poor guy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Caught in the Act!

Well, I finally got a picture with Ethan's Mr. Potato Head ears on. I didn't have the flash on the camera but at least I got the picture! Really, we are trying our best to keep him from sticking anything in any hole!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Catch the Heart

Today we are going to the Salem Library's Discovery Room. Every season they change the theme and since it is Salem's 150th birthday guess what the theme is? Oregon of course! We are also going for Sarah since she is trying to find information for a 10 unit lesson on The Oregon Trail.

I thought I should post this fun game that we played on Thursday. Pre-cut a heart out of red paper and place some strong tape on the back of it. Stick the heart on your back, or in Ethan's case a lot lower ;) ! Then put on your favorite Valentine's Day song and run around the house. {My favorite song for this month is A Little Bit of Love by Mary Rice Hopkins} Have him try and get the heart off your back. It is so much fun! Then take turns with the heart!

* This game develops hand and eye coordination. Plus it gets those little guys moving. I saw the news last night that said that most of the preschools in this area don't have structured active play. It is very important to get gross motor play in your child's life. It is my biggest struggle right now since it is raining a lot in the winter months. Just getting a ball out in the living room and reminding Ethan to kick it will help him get active. I saw many children in kindergarten and first grade that we already giving the excuses in P.E. that high schoolers gave to get out of running and active sports. Sad.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Heart Paintings

I finally figured out how to change the settings on the camera back to JPEG and color settings! Now I know for next time. Deb called yesterday through Skype and Ethan loved playing "letter" games with her. I got these pictures while they were playing. She would hold up a letter in ASL and Ethan had to guess what it was.

He would scream the answer... I wonder how loud it was through the speakers of her computer. Cause it was deafening on this end. Super cute, though.

I think this was letter "G."

Today's craft was Heart Paintings. I pre-cut a heart out of white paper and dug out my heart cookie cutter from my collection. {If you don't have any cookie cutters you for sure need to go to Goodwill or garage sales and look for them! I use them almost everyday. I have been making the cutest sandwiches lately - little rabbit, cat, and horse ones are my favorite.} We then used red and pink paint to stamp our paper. I use recycled lids for our paint trays. I also laid down a shower curtain liner for our painting tarp. It makes for the easiest clean up! Plus my kitchen table is made from one piece of real wood and doesn't have a protective coating on it so... I really don't want to paint on it.

The tarp gives Ethan lots of room on the floor to create! Next time I will have paper already out so that if he wants to experience more I am more prepared. This morning I had to run and go get it quickly. He was sliding his hands on the paint enjoying the sensory. Very cool!

* Sensory Experiences are very important to develop young. Most learners are kinetic and need to touch things to help them learn best. I use to have preschoolers that had never touched paint because it was "messy." Let them get messy... just be prepared ahead of time to make it easier for you! I had rags with soap and water ready for clean up. Have a bucket of soap and water to add all the supplies when you're done. Also, add a squirt of soap to your paint to make clean up oh so much easier. It is easier for clean up to have a painting smock. If you don't have one it is easy to make one with a recycled athletic t-shirt.

I made this one for the preschool class I was teaching for Family Camp last summer. You just cut down the sides and at the seam on the top. I cut strips of fabric for the ties and used no-sew tape to attach them to the top and sides. You can also decorate it how you like; we just used our Bible verse for the lesson with an iron-on transfer. Well... now you have some craft ideas to do with your kids this weekend! Have fun!

Walking Mr. Potato Head

Ethan is now walking around with Mr. Potato Head ears in his own. It makes me laugh so hard! Dave and I have to hold the laughter in and tell him not to put them in his ears and then also stick them into his mouth afterwards. Boys...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Bit of Crazy

Becca has called me a few time last week asking why I hadn't posted anything lately... I told her that it isn't all that great to talk about the training sessions Ethan and I have had these last two weeks. She told me that I needed to make a list about the good things. I love that girl! She helped me realize that I was thinking negatively most of the day! Training for 12 hours straight makes for a long day... but I have been able to take these times and really look for the good in them.

Yesterday, Ethan was a blast and made me laugh most of the day! Like when he was face down on the floor chewing on the threshing at the door to his room. I think boys just try and eat everything! He looked so funny with his bottom up in the air and licking the floor! ;) Later, he asked to take a nap with me and that was special. I drew "letters" on his back for five minutes and we both fell asleep. It is something special when he falls asleep in my arms because it is very rare. When Ethan was born and we came home from the hospital I couldn't rock him to sleep - he just wouldn't have it!

Yesterday was our first day working with my old lesson plans. We had a great time creating a heart mobile. I pre-cut a circle from white paper (a white paper plate would work too). Ethan placed it in our painting tub (we love to re-use the tubs that you get while in the hospital) and he helped me squeeze red paint in the center of the paper. I then added five marbles and let Ethan shake and roll the marbles around the paper. He really loved it! We flipped the paper and did the same thing. After it dried, Ethan watched as I cut the circle into a spiral, punched holes, and added the hearts. Of course if he was a little older he would be the one cutting everything out. Just cutting one heart and Ethan would be all done with his craft for the day! ;)

I realized that I am going to have quite a bit of art hanging around the place and came up with a great idea! I am going to hang up his work for about a week, then send it all to different family members. That way, the house doesn't get cluttered and Ethan can make a grandparent or auntie's day! I will post the picture of the craft later today!

I was a little disappointed in the Bible curriculum when I started re-reading my lessons. The lessons are from 2003-2004. I guess the only way I could explain it would be, it was before God showed me how to teach His word His way! You know not just telling children "about God" but actually letting them experience God. So, Dave and I are thinking of ordering the curriculum that I ordered for our church's children's church. It would be amazing if Ethan could learn the same lessons that our preschoolers and graders are learning but at his level. It would only be about $15 a month. Not bad for learning God's word in a way that will stick!

Also, today was Aerobic day and Ethan just sat on the floor and stared at me. When I cut the time short, since he wasn't participating, he cried, "E-ser-size!" I guess he really did like it. I think it will be like teaching preschoolers... it will take some time getting use to the crazy teacher!