Tuesday, September 30, 2014

London's Learning--A is for Apple

One thing that we've started since we moved into our new home is getting London ready for pre-school.  It's nothing too crazy, just a couple of little crafts and activities throughout the day. We probably do around 30 minutes every morning and then maybe 15-30 after her nap.  Some days she wants to go longer, and some days we do maybe 10 minutes because that's all she can handle.  I try to keep it fun for her and have it be something she looks forward to. 

I've been doing a theme for every week, and for our first week I chose the ever-classic "A is for Apple."  Here are some of the things we did.

To work on letter recognition we did an apple a and an alligator A.  You can see them up on London's art wall here.  I forgot to take individual pictures of them, so this is as good as it's gonna get. ;)

You can find tutorials on our "A" crafts here and here.

We also did a "sticker search."  This is a simple game where we look for the letter A all over the house.  Once London finds one, we put an "A" sticker on it.  We also played where we just had to find something that started with the letter A.  This version was a little bit beyond her right now, but it was fun for me to mix it up a little.

I've been working on making London a fabric alphabet (inspiration found here), and thought they would be fun to use while we work on our letters.  We use these for a game too.  I will hide the letters and give her hints on where to find them.  She gets so pumped when she finally does.  "I FOUND THE A!!!!" Trust me, it's awesome.  I'm just excited that she's starting to realize that not every letter is 'G'.  Parenthood is all about the small things.

 And our last letter recognition activity was a game we played on the chalkboard.  I would write a word and she would find the A's in it.  It was fun (and easy!) and helped us focus on the difference between uppercase and lowercase.

Our favorite not-Disney Princess.
"Ok," you're thinking, "this is all well and good, but where are the apples??"  Don't worry your pretty little heads! They're coming.  We did apple crafts to work on our fine motor skills...

Sorry instagram followers, you have already seen this cuteness. Apple prints for our apple wreath.

This was her favorite project.  She cut out all the strips we glued to the apple.  Tutorial here.

Working on her fine motor apples.

Quote of the week: "Mom, I got Blue's Clues hands!"
Finished fine motor apples.  Tutorial here.
Didn't get any close ups of our wreath or our apple tree, but here is the tutorial for our yarn apples in the tree.

I also made a sensory bin for with an "apple pie" theme.  IT SMELLED DELICIOUS.  

Juliet got in on this action.

Making "apple cookies." Sounds good.

Smells good enough to eat!
You can find the how-to on our sensory bin here.

There was also apple pie playdough...which also smelled delicious.

Directions found here.
 And school isn't school without a little math and science, right?

We counted apple seeds.

Simple and fun.  Explanation here.

And we observed how vinegar and baking soda react in our apple volcanoes.  "BUBBLES!!"

The set-up.

This never gets old!!!
Tutorial here.

As much fun as all this was, I have to say the crowning moment of the week was our field trip to an apple orchard.  It was a long drive, but so much fun!  London loved running through the trees and exploring the farm.  We went to Nivens Apple Farm, near Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Butterfly enjoying a fallen apple.  These little guys were everywhere!

Because we were there too!

They have a pumpkin patch too!
 Once we got back home from our excursion, both girls felt the need to immediately dive into the apples we brought home..

After naps, we had an apple feast!  Complete with several kinds of apple slices, apple butter sandwiches, and an apple fritter.  

So there you go.  I actually had a lot of fun with this, so hopefully London is liking it too. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

In which I wax poetic.

Note:  I debated publishing this as it contains thoughts and feelings that I haven't really shared with anyone, and they're the kind of thoughts and feelings that I don't like to burden people with.  But I really feel that not hitting publish would only further bottle them up, and odds are not many people will read this anyways.  So here goes.

I am worried it's been so long since I have been on here that I'll have forgotten how to use this site.

It's been awhile, friends, and I am sorry for it.  It's not like it's that hard to keep this blog up; I mean all I do is upload a few cute pictures, write a couple captions or stories, and hit publish.  But the last few months, it just felt so overwhelming.  A lot of things have felt overwhelming.  Like getting out of bed in the morning.  Changing diapers.  Leaving my house.  The hum drum hum drum beat of life just seemed to be wearing me down.  And I don't even have that hard of life! 

Please, don't misunderstand.  I'm not saying there weren't sweet moments in each day.  There were, and I tried my hardest to savor them.  But at the end of the day, as I (finally) would lay my head down, they would seem few and far between.  I just wanted to burrow under the covers and hide.  Everything was too much, too loud, too soon.  I would keep trying to motivate myself, to jump back into life with zest, but often would become discouraged.  I stopped posting because I felt like I had nothing to say.

But, here I am, typing away into cyberspace.  What changed?  Today, I received a text, and as soon as I read the words, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  I recognize that's a cliche, but as soon as I read the word, "remission," I felt as though I could breathe again for the first time in ages. 

I didn't even realize the enormity of the worry I was carrying with me.  I am not a worry-er.  I have friends who are, and the scenarios they tell me that plague them often never cross my mind.  Perhaps that is naive of me, but that's just the way I am wired.  But I'm afraid that because I am wired this way that worry is perhaps a foreign feeling to my mind.  Or maybe a scary feeling to my mind.  And so I pushed all that worry I've had ever since my dad's diagnosis away--away and away, until it was just hovering above me, in a big, dark cloud of worries.

Tonight, I had to take the garbage out, and I looked up at the stars as I was walking back to the house.  The skies here have been dark and cloudy all day, and it was raining on and off, but now that it's dark, the stars are peeking through.  There are little trails of the retreating storm clouds left smeared across the sky, but it is clear enough to see some stars.  This is the first cool, crisp, autumn night we've had, and for some reason, it makes the stars seem closer, and yet farther away at the same time.  I looked up at the stars, with their light shining across space to me, and I felt something that felt like eternity.

It's all pretty poetic for a trip out to the garbage, I know.  But I need to start remembering these moments.  The older I get, the more I realize that how you see yourself and see life and all the good and bad that happens to you is all a matter of perspective.  The weight of my worry had blurred my vision.  I was getting so focused in on these things that I had to do just to...I don't know, be normal?  Be acceptable?  I was so worried about these superficial things, and I would get frustrated when they wouldn't get done, or weren't done in the way I wanted them done, because I felt like if I couldn't control at least this aspect of my life, what the heck was I even doing?  But today I didn't look at my day as a to-do list.  I looked at it as an opportunity.  An opportunity to help, to love, to smile, and to chase away someone else's storm cloud.  And hopefully I can see it that way tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

And hopefully I will be writing more again.  Because truthfully, I have missed it.  And it's not so horribly overwhelming as it seemed.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

St Maarten: The Location of my future second home.

 ..But really.  This was hands down my favorite island I have ever visited!  For starters, it is absolutely gorgeous.  From the moment I looked out at it from the ship, I was in love. Water in such vibrant shades of blue, it did not even look real rolling up onto pure, white sandy beaches.  Dotting the landscape behind those perfect beaches were buildings in bright, happy colors, and towering behind the buildings were steep, green-covered mountains.  It looked just how a tropical paradise ought to look, and it did not disappoint once we got off the boat.  I could have wandered around for hours.  I could have stayed on the beach for hours!  ...Oh, you guys, the beaches were unbelievable!! Every person we talked to was so nice--even the gentlemen that kept trying to sell us marijuana!  ;) (They were nice and left us alone as soon as we said no thank you.)  I loved this place, and I mean, Dan's a dentist, we totally could have a home here some day, right?? ;)

Love the pineapple on top of the courthouse!

St. Maarten is very small island, but it's split between two countries; there's a Dutch side and a French side.  Our ship docked on the Dutch side, in Phillipsburg, and our original plan had been to take a bike tour through the city and then hit up a beach.  Those dreams were quickly dashed when we couldn't find the company we'd been planning on using.  However, we did not let that get us down! We wandered around and enjoyed the sites while hunting for something else to do...and our paths crossed with just the man!

Chico is a St Maarten native and proud of his Dutch passport.  He offered our group a private tour of the island at a discounted rate (it was late in the day and he was worried he wouldn't find another group to take.)  In three hours he took us all over the island, hitting up all the major sites and allowing us to see both the Dutch and French sides--and taste a little of the culture of both.  Teaming up with Chico was the best decision we could have made.  He was a talker and knew so much, not just about the sites, but he could answer any question we had about the politics, economy, and almost any random statistic.  My favorite thing is when he would say, "my wife and I enjoy going here/this is one of my favorite things to do."  Maybe he was just talking things up, but he was awesome and if you ever go to St Maarten, look him up, totally worth the money.
First stop: Maho Beach, which is right next to the airport.  Planes fly RIGHT over you.  We got to see a couple in action, it was CRAZY.  I love the picture on the warning sign...

Next, we went up to the top of a mountain to check out the view!

Chico even took pictures for us!  What a guy!

Next, it was over to the French side.  Naturally, the best thing to do there is ...EAT!
A long line, so you know it's good. ;)

It's our turn to decide!

The winners....

The memory of this makes me melt inside.  So, so good!

That's the fort, but we didn't have time to go up and see it. 

The final stop of our tour was Orient Bay, aka, the most perfect beach ever.

Are you getting the vibrancy of the colors here?? This is incredible!!

Down toward the nudist beach.  Par-tay!
 After our tour with Chico came to a close, we did a little souvenir shopping, and then headed back to the boat.  This is up there on my list of favorite days.  You know the days that are burned so bright into your memory it seems as though they happened only moments ago?  Totally how I feel about our little venture to St Maarten.  I can't wait to go back and explore it more another time.  It is a GEM.