Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Music Playdate

Recently, we hosted October playdate #2, a music themed event. This turned out to be one of those gatherings that I wished I had done most everything a little differently. Thankfully, I have forgiving friends that are willing to go with the flow and kids that don't really know the difference, so it overall turned out okay.

We started out with a super cute snack that Samie brought-- drums (fruit cups) and drumsticks (pretzels with marshmallow tops). So creative! 
Abbie can' t wait to dig in!

Jaden particularly liked the snack, and even polished off Cody's uneaten portions.

 Then, we had what was supposed to be music exploratory time. All the kids brought along a favorite instrument or two from home, and we gave them some time to play each other's instruments.

Jaden and Cody try out the boom whackers on the xylophone.
Kenzie and Abbie play the piano and the pipe organ.

 Most of the kids weren't really very interested, though, as the instrument playing lasted all of two minutes. We abandoned ship when Cody started whacking people in the head with his boom whacker...

This next station, however, captured the kids' interest much more. Who doesn't like to bang on water glasses with spoons? :)

The rainbow-colored water made this instrument even more fun! All the kids were very careful, and we only had one minor spill. (hooray!)

After this, I should've gone straight to the instrument-making craft, but it appeared as though the kids needed to get some energy out. So instead, we played a little musical freeze game. I played part of a song for the kids on a CD, and when it stopped, the kids had to shout out, "Freeze!" Then, I gave them directions on how to move around or dance (tiny steps, crawling, waving their arms, clapping, jumping, etc.).

Micah, Abbie, and Kenzie take GIANT steps!

As you can tell, only half the kids got into this game. Jaden and Cody refused to leave my side. Afterwards, I thought it would have been smarter to make the instruments first, and then let the kids do this activity with their homemade instruments. They probably would've been much more excited that way. At least these 3 seemed to have fun! Kenzie watched me especially carefully and followed every direction with enthusiasm. She was super cute.

Finally, at the end of our time together, we made several instruments. We made drums (out of beans and styrofoam bowls), shakers (with rice and small plastic cups), tambourines (using paper plates and bells), castanets (using posterboard rectangles and buttons), and the popular kazoos from wax paper and TP tubes. The kids used markers and stickers to decorate their instruments.

After the fact, I wished that I had pre-made most of these instruments, rather than just gathering the supplies. It was a bit too much to make these instruments with the kids and help them with the marker caps and sticker backs at the same time. Some of the kids (especially Jaden and Cody) got a little restless. As you can see, we made a mess of supplies!

Our two littlest musicians, Hannah and Wes, happily observed the action.

Cody shows off his completed drum... and his guitar shirt. Yes, mommy purposely planned the musical outfits! ;)

 Even though the instrument-making was a bit crazy, the kids all loved their final products! Unfortunately, Micah and Ryder had to leave early, but the rest of us had a final closing concert. Each of the kids picked out a favorite new instrument and then happily played and danced around.

If any of these kiddos turn out to be concert musicians, we'll know where it first began! :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

October Miscellaneous

Here are some of our latest happenings:

Each year, our community hosts this fall event at the start of October. Arts and crafts and food vendors line the streets downtown. There wasn't a whole lot for the boys to do, other than this initial children's booth we saw (sponsored by a group that's trying to start a Children's Museum here). Jaden and Cody loved the activities at this booth. First, the boys got to decorate their own pumpkins. 

The permanent markers made Mommy a little nervous, but both boys did well. (Daddy's nearby watchful eye was very helpful, too!)

These colorfully decorated pumpkins now adorn our fireplace mantel at home. Next, we got to decorate our own potato head people-- with real vegetables!

Jaden and Cody picked out which veggies they wanted (peppers, string beans, cucumbers, kale, and a few non-veggies, like cranberries), and then Mommy helped with the attachment, using toothpick halves.

What a creative activity idea! Here are the boys' finished products.

Then, we continued on to check out some of the food vendors. Cody and Jaden sampled a couple of mini "hand pies." Yum!

The only other thing we got was some homemade caramel dipping sauce, which the boys have absolutely LOVED with apples. Unfortunately, we missed out on the cattle drive, since that event didn't start until 2:00. We'll catch the cattle drive another year, when it's not in the middle of naptime!

Mlnarik Visit
 Over Columbus Day weekend, we were very excited to have our dear friends Josh and Katie over for dinner. They moved to Sioux Falls over the summer but came back to town for an extended weekend visit. Both Josh and Katie were fun playmates.

Josh encouraged the boys to giggle and make some silly faces.

After dinner, Josh and Katie played a few rounds of hide-and-seek with the boys and followed them around outside a bit, too. When it was time for bed, Katie read a bedtime story for the boys.

The boys were too excited to sit still for long, so Josh and Katie just read the last book by themselves. Awww.... :)

We are thankful for our friendship with you, Josh and Katie! It was so fun to have you visit. We miss you bunches!!

Recent Playtime
Lately, Cody and Jaden have been REALLY into playing hide-and-go-seek. They (Cody especially) probably ask to play this game at least once a day. Our favorite way to play is to have Mommy hide with one boy and Daddy hide with the other. When Daddy's at work, though, the boys are quite happy to hide together and have Mommy do the seeking. (Mommy no longer hides on her own... the boys too often "forget" to find her!) Jaden and Cody are actually getting much better at finding different hiding spots (at first, they'd continually return to one or two of the same places). Also, they do surprisingly well at hiding quietly together AND at staying hidden until Mommy actually discovers them. This picture captures one of their recent hiding spots. Mommy found the boys lying in this position, perfectly still. So funny!

Another day, the boys thought it would be fun to be "human tunnels" with their trains. I love seeing them devise their own creative play more and more as they get older.

Cody and Jaden also enjoy playing with Mommy and Daddy's shoes.

Just when I'm beginning to think the boys are getting so big, this type of play reminds me how much more they have yet to grow!

I've also been surprised lately to see how observant Jaden and Cody are. One day during the boys' naptime, I changed my toenail polish. The very first thing the boys said upon waking up was, "Mommy, new toes! New purple. Blue all gone!" Not only did they immediately notice my new nail color, but they also had no problem remembering what color I had on previously. They were very excited to touch Mommy's nails and to tell Daddy all about it when he got home.

Time with Doris
Not long ago, we connected with our friend Doris from church. Doris lives really close to our downtown hospital, so she suggested that we take a walk to see the fish at the hospital's main lobby. It was a perfect idea!

The boys loved seeing the fish ("BIG fish" and "tiny fish"). We probably only saw less than 10 total, but Cody and Jaden were still very interested.

On the walk back to Doris' place, we discovered a humongous pile of leaves. Of course, we had to stop and play a while!

Doris definitely knows how little boys think! Ever since we have started visiting her, Doris has built up a collection of toy cars and trucks for Jaden and Cody. Since Doris keeps the vehicles at her place, they seem like new each time we visit! I love the smile that Cody is giving Doris in the picture below. He's giggling at the sound his truck is making.

The vehicles kept the boys entertained for quite some time while Doris and Mommy visited a bit.

At the end of our visit, Doris sent us home with a few new fall decorations for our home and some baby pumpkins, too. We love our time with this thoughtful, generous lady! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fire Station Visit

 Last week, in honor of National Fire Prevention Week, each of our local fire stations chose a day to have a community open house. We knew that visiting a fire station would be something our boys would absolutely LOVE! It was perfect that our neighborhood station had their open house on Friday-- Daddy's day off.

When we arrived, a few daycare/preschool groups were just getting started with a short video. It was an animated clip talking primarily about smoke alarms and when to call 911. The video was brief enough that it held the boys' attention just fine. 

When the video was done, we got to meet a special guest of the station, Sparky the Fire House Dog. Cody was a bit frightened by this giant canine, but Jaden seemed fairly excited.

After seeing a few other kids give Sparky a hug, Jaden followed suit without hesitation.

Cody, on the other hand, wanted to stay safely in Daddy's arms.

Then, we got an up-close view of a real fire engine! One kind firefighter helped Cody and Jaden climb right up inside the vehicle.

Jaden, Cody, and Daddy all practiced sitting in the seats.

It was really interesting seeing all the equipment the firefighters keep inside their truck. Jaden and Cody especially liked the rolled-up hose.

That is one big truck!

The second fire truck we got to view seemed to have all kinds of special compartments and knobs.

Our climbing boys loved it! Unfortunately, they didn't come out unscathed... Mommy's still trying to get the black grease marks out of their jackets!

This time, the firefighter let the boys climb right up into the driver's seat!

It was REALLY exciting watching the firefighter extend the ladder, move it around, and even climb  up to the top!

At the end of the visit, we got to try out a real fire hose in an attempt to put out a not-so-real fire.

The fireman showed Jaden which lever to pull to make the hose spray.

Cody particularly liked spraying the hose back and forth. The water stream was sure powerful!

Back at home, we opened the gift bags that we received from the station. Jaden and Cody happily stuck their fire fighter badge-stickers to their shirts, and Jaden, at least, proudly wore his "Check Your Smoke Alarm" wristband. We also got pencils, erasers, and coloring sheets.

This picture shows a bit more clearly what the boys are holding-- fire fighter hats! We actually made these earlier in the week at library story & craft time. After the visit to the fire station, though, the boys had a renewed interest in their hats. :)

We're thankful for all the hard work that our local fire department does. It was such a treat to visit the station. Who knows? We may have little fire-fighters in the making... :)