Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stash x2

For a quick recap: Simon's stash is a small laundry basket that stays in our dining area. Each Sunday I refill it with education activities. The goal is to complete one activity each night. Some of the items stay in the basket all week (like puzzles) while others are replenished as they are used (like coloring pages). Materials for activities needing multiple parts or supplies are placed in bags. This has been an excellent tool for ensuring that Simon and I get quality time together after work/school.

Last week's stash:
1. Preschool worksheets (thank you Dollar Tree) with crayons
2. Old catalog with scissors to practice cutting
3. Muffin mix
3. Alphabet puzzle cards
4. Sequencing set (we got ours from Scholastic - here is a similar activity)
5. Supplies for bird popsicles
6. Supplies for polar bear craft
7. Coloring pages with markers
8. Speech therapy supplies (Simon recently started speech)
The stash is sitting on some polar bear books that I pulled to go with the unit his preschool class was studying.

This week's stash:
1. Coloring pages and colored pencils
2. Worksheets and crayons
3. My First Wooden Matching Puzzle Spell and Learn (I paid about $3 on clearance at Ross)
4. Jello mix
5. Strawberry Shortcake Old Maid
6. Shaving cream and small construction vehicles (it was my friend Kendra's idea to spray shaving cream on the table and let the construction vehicles play in the "snow")
7. Stickers and paper
8. A toilet paper dragon
9. Speech therapy supplies

I updated my original Simon's Stash blog to show state standards met by each activity.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Popsicles for the Birds

One of the crafts in our stash this week was popsicles for the birds - an idea inspired by Ice Ornaments.
First, I let Simon pour birdseed into plastic containers.
Second, he poured one cup of water into each container.
Finally, he lay a piece of yard into each container with enough hanging out to tie onto a branch.

We placed the containers in the freezer. We checked them a couple of times before bed so that Simon could see how the water temperature was changing and how ice was forming on the surface. The next morning, he was chuffed to see they were completely frozen. When we returned home from work/preschool, I took him outside to hang the bird popsicles (which popped easily out of the containers) to one of our evergreen trees.

The yard happened to be full of birds, so Simon tried to speed the melting process in order to feed them, but found the ice a bit to thick to "bam" apart.
He settled for going inside and looking through our Audobon guide to see who might be eating the seeds once the ice melted.
Overall, a successful, education, enjoyable project;)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Snow Foam

Last week, one of the crafts in Simon's stash was snow foam.  We had a ton of fun with it! In fact, Simon kept saying, "We're having so much fun! We're having a great time, aren't we?"

We mixed 1 cup of shaving cream with 1 cup of white glue to make our foam. Them, we finger painted on 12x12 sheets of sturdy scrapbook paper (salvaged from my pre-motherhood art supplies, which have all now gone to Simon).  We had great fun exploring the texture of the foam and drawing through it with our fingers and the cap from the empty glue bottle.

We ended up with a plethora of finished products - here is a sampling.

I love the one with our hand prints! We plan to do this again when we have friends over, since it was cheap,  easy to set up, and easy to clean up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sesame Cole Slaw

This was the slaw that accompanied the corn dog muffins below. I adapted it from a recipe for Amish Slaw – making it faster and adding an Asian twist.
Sesame Cole Slaw
1 (16oz) bag of shredded cabbage and carrots
½ cup sugar
½ cup vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/3 cup sesame oil

1. In a medium bowl, mix ½ cup sugar with the shredded cabbage and carrots.  
2. In a small saucepan, mix the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and cool completely.
3. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage and toss to coat.
4. Chill in the fridge for several hours before serving. 

Jiffy Mix Corn Dog Muffins

I made these for a play-date. They were really fun and the kids loved them. I adapted the recipe from alli-n-son (mine is the in-a-hurry version).

Corn Dog Muffins
2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
6 hot dogs, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare muffin tins or tins (equal to 12 muffins) by spraying with non-stick spray or greasing with oil.
2. In a large bowl, prepare the Jiffy mix per box instructions. Stir in hot dogs and cheese.
3. Scoop batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. 

Personally, I liked these because they had the taste of a corn dog without that really annoying, gross stick.  All the fairground yum, none of the pine aftertaste:)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Knut the Baby Polar Bear

Continuing with Simon's week of polar bears, we made our own Knut the Baby Polar Bear. I got the idea here and simply modified it a bit. First, I let Simon glue cotton "snowballs" across the bottom of a piece of blue paper. (Yes - I let a three year old glue - I am brave.) Then, I painted his hand white and let him make a hand print. After the print was dry, I used a sharpie to define his hand as Knut.

Although the real Knut tragically passed away last year, the board book based on his early life is a very sweet story.

Two notes:  First, Stone says, "You are going to have to explain that we have custody of Simon." Well...there you are. We have custody of Simon.

Second, I promise there will be recipes here again. I am just terribly knackered tonight, and an art project will have to suffice for now:)

So lovely to be seeing all of your blogs again and hearing from you!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Polar Bear Cookies

Simon has been learning all about winter and the arctic at school this month. To reinforce that, we have tried a few winter crafts and recipes. This week we made polar bear cookies. I found the idea here but modified it because the original ingredients don't work (three Hershey's kisses on an Oreo will not fit well).

We broke three Oreo cookies in half and placed the icing covered sides on our plate. Then, Simon gave them mini-marshmallow ears by smashing the marshmallows down in the icing. He added two chocolate chips for eyes and one for a nose. The results were cute, and he had done it all himself!

While Simon was eating his creations, we read two books featuring polar bears. First, God Gave Us You. This is the story of a mother polar bear explaining to her cub how parents anticipate the birth of a child.

Second, we read On the Night You Were Born. In this beautifully illustrated book, the whole world rejoices at the birth of a baby. Simon adores this book and is convinced it was written about him. Who am I to tell him otherwise? ;)

With my baby on the way, Simon has needed to be reassured that his arrival was also greatly anticipated - that just as much fuss was made over him. Add a bit of chocolate to that, and you have some great togetherness time. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Preschool Stash

One of the stresses of being pregnant has been the worry that I am not spending as much quality time with Simon as I need to. We still spend time together, and I make sure that Stone or I read him at least six books every day, but there are times at the end of the day when I think, "What else did I do with him today that was real, quality time?" I feel like too much of that quality time has been lost, first to me having to rest and -since I am feeling well - to my mad cleaning and baby preparations.

This weekend, I came up with a partial solution that I am calling "Simon's Stash". I bought a cheap, small laundry basket at the Dollar Tree and filled it with all kinds of brain enriching activities. My goal is to do at least one activity with Simon per day.

On Sunday, the basket contained the following:
1. A box of Jello for us to make together
2. A Ziplock bag containing a matching game cut from HighFive magazine
3. A 25 piece puzzle
4. A Ziplock bag containing all of the supplies for snow paint
5. A Ziplock bag containing all of the supplies for a toilet paper roll shepherd
6. A Ziplock bag containing coloring pages and crayons
7. A Ziplock bag containing preschool worksheets and a writing utensil
8. A Ziplock bag containing Play Doh and some Play Doh tools

Here is the basic plan for the basket:
I will offer Simon some Stash time every day. He can choose whatever activity he wants. If we have time, and he feels like it, we can do more than one activity. Reusable (Play Doh, puzzle, matching game, etc.) will stay in the box for one calendar week. Single use items (coloring pages, crafts, etc.) will be replaced as they are used.

Each item in the box correlates to one of our state standards for three year olds.
1. Jello - Cognitive/Social Emotional: Social Studies: Human Interactions/Cultures: Develops growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.
2. Matching Game - Social and Emotional Development: Approaches to Learning: Cooperation: Engages in cooperative play with other children. (Okay, I am not other children, but we still take turns.)
3. Puzzle - Cognitive Development: Early Literacy: Whole-Part Relationship: Completes puzzles of 4 to 10 pieces. 
4.  Snow Paint - Cognitive Development: Science: Physical Science: Begins to participate in simple investigations to test observations.
5. TP Shepherd - Social and Emotional Development: Approaches to Learning: Self Control: Gains control over impulses. (Simon has to wait to play with his TP person until the glue dries). 
6. Coloring sheets - Cognitive/Social Development: Creative Arts: Art: Scribbles and paints.
7. Worksheets - Cognitive Development: Early Literacy: Visual Discrimination: Can discriminate which pictured objects are alike or different based on color, shape, size, and number.
8. Play Doh - Cognitive/Social-Emotional Development: Creative Arts: Art: Uses a variety of art materials for tactile experience and exploration.

So far, Simon's Stash is working well. His eyes lit up when I showed it to him, and Simon's Stash time has been a daily treat. He is loving the choices and the knowledge that we will have structured time together at the end of the day. I am going to bed knowing that I have spent time bonding with him and nurturing his brain.

Speaking of which, since he has been patiently sitting beside me and reading to himself for the last few minutes, it is Stash time!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Back and BIG

Here I am - back again. On this blog, which has been largely devoted to healthy eating and weight loss, I should start by saying that in the time I have been absent from blogging, I have gained A TON of weight. In fact, my belly is ridiculously large. Which leads me to my next confession....

I have been absent from blogging for a few months because I have been doing a different kind of cooking - the making-a-human-being-in-my-belly kind. I am five months pregnant. My first few months were incredibly difficult, complete with plethora ultrasounds, scary medical words, and an ER visit I hope never to repeat. I wasn't quite ready to tell everyone in the blogosphere what was going on because I really couldn't explain my weird cooking habits without explaining my pregnancy and I couldn't stand the thought of having to tell everyone if I lost the baby.

Thankfully - more thankfully than I can express - the hemorrhage that was causing me so much trouble has resolved and the doctor says that my baby boy is healthy and well. He certainly feels healthy and well - he kicks so hard it takes my breath! I love every kick.

So, I am back. Now, my blogs may veer from food to working motherhood from time to time, but I know you will be patient with me. I have missed you all and can't wait to catch up.