Sunday, August 24, 2014

Recent Playtime

With two toddlers in our household, playtime is a big deal! :) Here are some of our latest activities:

Playing with Daddy
It is such a treat when Daddy comes home from work each day! From their perch on the couch, Jaden and Cody regularly watch Daddy's car pull in and then jump up and down excitedly when he comes through the door. Often, Daddy steps right in to play with his boys without even pausing to change out of his work clothes. What a great playmate! Here, Cody and Jaden enjoy a game of peek-a-boo with Daddy.

Peek-a-boo double-teaming! :)

Now, it's Cody and Jaden's turn to be "surprised" by the peek-a-boo. What a giggly pair!

Hands-on Play
Recently, a good friend directed me to the blog "Hands On: As We Grow." I love so many of this blogger's ideas, particularly her special section on playing with toddlers. We've enjoyed trying out quite a few of her  ideas. Our first activity was to create a sensory tub out of pasta.

The blog suggested bringing out a variety of tools to use in the tub-- bowls, measuring cups and spoons, tongs.

These tools definitely made our playtime more interesting! Plus, it gave the boys some good fine motor skill practice. I love how Jaden's mouth opens with the tongs. :)

I especially appreciate how this blog has encouraged me to step out of my mommy comfort zone a bit. With two active & curious young toddlers, I often shy away from the activities that will create excessive messes in our household. Or, if I choose a messier activity, I typically cut the boys off from their play before the mess gets too big. True hands-on play, though, is all about exploration, sensory experiences, learning, process, and, yes, making a MESS. I'm beginning to think that maybe this is part of the reason why God gave me twin boys-- to help me break out of my ultra-neatness habits a little. :)

So, here is what happened when we continued our play...

I'm pretty sure that everyone had a good time. :)

Another day, we tried painting with sponges. Jaden is by himself in the first few pictures because Cody (again) refused to wear a smock and was bothered by being shirt-less.

After a few minutes of hearing Mommy's overly-excited voice about "how FUN!" this activity is ("Oooh, look at Jaden dipping the sponge in the GREEN!"), Cody decided to give the project a try for himself.

And whaddya know? Cody ended up enjoying himself, too. :) I love Jaden's blurry, in-motion arm in this shot. He really got into the stamping!

Another sensory activity we tried was a flour exploration. Toys + toddlers + a tray of flour = Fun? White-faced little boys? A floor covered in flour? We were about to find out!

Jaden and Cody experimented first with their hands before trying any of their toys in the flour.

The cars and trucks ended up making really cool tread marks in the flour. Fun!

Jaden stayed the longest at this activity, but neither boy played longer than 10 minutes or so. They seemed to enjoy it for that amount of time, though! And Mommy enjoyed that the flour DID primarily stay in the tray. :)

Our latest hands-on play activity was making trains (or caterpillars) out of egg cartons. The boys were fascinated by watching me cut up the egg carton. After I punched holes in the sides of the carton pieces, they tried threading the pipe cleaners and enjoyed holding the hole puncher, too. 

Here was our final product! I thought about adding antennae (we did add a pair of eyes), but the boys were starting to lose interest already.

Playtime with the caterpillars lasted only a short while (for this day, anyway). For this particular activity, the process of making the creation was the most exciting!

Puddle Jumping
For the past week or so, we've been getting TONS of rain. We were very happy for the chance to try out our new rain boots from Grammy and Papa. We jumped in some big-ish puddles...

...and tried out some teeny-tiny puddles, too.

The puddles were the best at the entrance to our cul-de-sac. 

You know it's been a good puddle-jumping experience when your wet pants start sliding off your little rump (Jaden). :)

The Boys' Own Creative Play
One recent morning after returning home from several errands, the boys set out to play while I began to prepare lunch. Typically, this time of day is very difficult-- making lunch while simultaneously refereeing all the fights and conflicts that are magnified by hungry tummies. When the boys are happy at play, I'm on a mission to finish lunch preps as quickly as possible. On this particular day, I heard a lot of noises from the boys' bedroom but no fighting or tears, so I let it go. I should've known better. Here was my first look at the boys' room... I couldn't tell if their smiles were full of guilt or just pride. :)

All of their shelves were totally empty! (Yes, those few remaining fabric drawers are empty, too). Believe it or not, this massive pile includes layers of books, shirts, pants, shorts, PJs, socks, diapers, wipes, winter gloves & hats, swimsuits, blankets, baskets, and even a few toys.

Soon after I entered the room, the boys quickly departed. Although lunch was out and ready to go, I decided to pick up just a few things before getting the boys in their chairs. Again, I should've known better. The boys were happy and giggling, so I assumed all was well. When I checked on them after just a few minutes, the boys were sitting in the large table chairs, sampling all of the lunch food that I had sitting out. The banana, apparently, looked the most delicious. This is what happens when no one has yet taught hungry twin boys how to peel a banana. 

What an adventure. Mommy learned some good lessons this day! :)

Burrito Boys
One morning, I set out these tiger blanket/pillow combos for the boys to sit on. Cody (L) and Jaden (R) insisted on lying underneath the blankets and having me wrap them all up like a burrito.

Despite what their faces show, they really appeared to be comfy! They remained wrapped up like this, without moving, for a good 5 minutes. That's a long time for a busy little toddler!

Here's a hint of a smile peeking through...

Playtime Videos
We've always enjoyed creating little tunnels for our little boys to crawl through. Lately, they've enjoyed making tunnels of their own!

A bit of Q&A with Jaden and Cody. :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Drew, Sarah & Abby Visit - Part 2

The rest of our visit with the AZ Walquists was also filled with lots of time outdoors. Can you tell that these 3 little ones are ready to go outside? :)

We spent Saturday morning visiting our downtown farmer's market. We were all quite impressed with these humongous zucchini. Andrew was especially intrigued by the yellow zucchini and purchased one (for only $1) so that we could grill it and try it at home. (Our later consensus-- not bad, but we'd rather stick with green.)

Sarah got some great pictures of the many food displays. I love her artsy eye and creative perspectives!

After a while of wandering around, tasting a few samples, and purchasing a few goods (salsa mix, garden veggie tortillas), we decided to buy a little snack for everyone. Fresh lemonade was first on our list. Cody was a big fan.

Then, while our crepes were being prepared, Jason and Andrew took the kids across the street for a close-up look at our downtown's animal art statues.

The crepes were definitely worth the wait. Yum!

We found a nice spot in the shade to relax and enjoy our treats.

The kiddos loved getting a taste of all 4 kinds of crepes we ordered.

What a fun morning!

In the late-afternoon, we headed out to the MT state fair. The fair only comes to town for 9 days, so we were excited that it overlapped with Drew, Sarah, and Abby's visit. Unfortunately, Jason wasn't able to join us on this outing since he was leading Saturday night worship at church. The fair experience was still a great one, though! Drew and Sarah did a great job of helping to take care of their little nephews.


Our first stop was to a building called the Ag Sprouts building since it was full of activities for younger kids. We arrived just in time to catch the last part of the kids' Stick Horse Rodeo. It was a very small-scale, simple event but fun to watch. Then we headed over to the petting zoo where we saw horses,

cows (Cody nearly got licked by this one!),

donkeys, goats, and chickens.

We even got a chance to milk this over-sized cow.

The spot that entertained the kids for the longest period of time was this sandbox full of corn.

By the end of our visit here, all 3 toddlers were very dusty, and Cody's socks were nearly yellow, but it seemed to be worth the fun they had.

Then, we walked around the fairgrounds, purchased a bit of fair food, and settled down to eat next to this outdoor gazebo. The group performing was called Kazual, an a capella singing group that said they'd been in the top 20 of America's Got Talent. They really were quite good!

While listening to the music, the kiddos ate the sack dinner that we had packed. For dessert, the boys loved their samples of funnel cake.

Finally, we planned to just walk by some of the rides, but we gave in and purchased a few ride tickets. We rode these fun monster trucks first.

Jaden had the pleasure of riding with Aunt Sarah on this particular ride. He was excited to pick his own color of truck-- "Greee!"

Cody was very intent on carefully steering the wheel as the truck bumped over the 'hills.'

Next, we went on the carousel. We didn't get a picture of him, but this time even Jaden rode his own horse! Cody was happy riding near Uncle Andrew,

and Abby seemed to be in carousel heaven! :)

As we were leaving the fair, we stopped to watch a few dance performances on this community stage.

Abby really got into the music and was dancing right along-- with gusto!

Back at home, we put the kids to bed and then enjoyed an adults-only dinner out on the deck. The evening was getting cool enough that I even had to put on a jacket by the dinner's end. Andrew and Sarah especially loved our cool, pleasant evenings!

The next morning we went to church and then-- you guessed it-- spent some more playtime outside!

Aunt Sarah had the greatest idea to put the bubble-maker on our playset. What fun-- bubbles were everywhere!

At some point during the day, Uncle Andrew brought out the tattoos we got at the fair.

Jaden's first-ever tattoo, "I heart Beef," didn't last long at all. He was interested in it for only a few minutes before he started wiping at it and crying, "off, off, off." Cody refused the tattoo altogether. Only little Abby marched proudly around, showing off her new tattoo!

The rest of Sunday was spent napping, playing with toys, visiting, and reading before the Arizonans had to return home that evening.

We laughed at how these 3 blondies could be mistaken for triplets. It was fun to see them play together and see Abby jump right in with all of Jaden and Cody's favorite things.

What a fun, relaxing time we had with you, Sarah, Drew, and Abby. We were so thankful that you came visit us! Thanks for the game-time, play time, great conversations, and all the great memories. 
We love you 3!