Saturday, April 21, 2012

Inspired By Birthdays

Lamar, Ava, and Mia all have birthdays coming up in May. In fact, Ava and Mia are a day apart and Lamar (who is two years older than the girls) has a birthday just 10 days later. The kids talk almost daily about what kind of cake they want. There are visions of an elaborate Spider-man cake, Dora cake, and a cake with a mermaid on it. The practical mom in me says pick one day to celebrate all the birthdays and have a neutral cake. The unpractical part of me says start learning how to decorate these dream cakes! I am sure we will find a way to make each birthday a special celebration while not getting too carried away! It has been fun seeing them excited about their birthdays. Turning 3 and 5 is a big deal!

All the talk of birthdays has inspired me! I usually like to have some sort of dramatic play area set up in the house. Most recently it has been the dress up clothes and kitchen set. The kitchen set was starting to blend into the wall (in other words, no one was playing with it much anymore). I decided it was time to put it away for a while, but didn't know what to replace it with. The girls inspired me one morning when they were pretending to go to a birthday party. We set up a birthday party in the play area complete with decorations, cake, and gift bags for wrapping presents. I included balloons to toss around and blank birthday cards and envelops as well. Many birthday parities have happened in this area since it was set up. It is a good thing all the cake that has been served has just been pretend! We will keep going to birthday parties until a new interest comes a long!

The party table.. The cakes are large yogurt containers that are covered with brown paper. The "frosting" is felt. The "candles"  are straws. 

In party outfit #1 she is ready with gift in hand. 

In this picture Ava was reading a birthday card. She said it was from her Mimi. According to her it says, "Dear Ava, Happy Birthday! Thank you for a beautiful day. Love, Mimi." This was party outfit #2. The girls said they needed hats to go to the party. I wish I could post pictures of Mia because her party hat was a hat that looks like a panda bear. Very stylish. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Persistence Pays Off

It is pretty easy to focus on what is difficult in life and push what is going well aside. It's not healthy to get wrapped up in the negative, but it is human nature and it happens. Lately I have been wrapped up in the negative. I have been frustrated by some behaviors our foster children exhibit. It is exhausting when our 4 year old (Lamar) argues about everything and anything and adds the pouting, freezing-up, and crying when things don't go his way. It is exhausting that our 2 1/2  year old's (Mia) answer to anything is "I don't want to" (insert very whiny voice) and she constantly roams the room taking toys from the other kids no matter what activity is set up for her. Something I fail to do when I am in the thick of all this is remember what it was like the day they entered our door and how much they have grown.

Over the last month and a half something we have done really well is be consistent. We refuse to argue with Lamar. We provide clear choices and consequences and stick with the consequences of the choice made. We provide three activity choices for Mia, provide her a space to play with her choice, and set the timer for 10 minutes. She needs to stay in her area with her choice until the timer rings. Once the timer rings, she can make a new choice. Our plan to work on behavior has not been magical. There have been many 10 minute play time minutes spent crying "I'm all done with this choice!" (before she even touched the choice) There have been many times Lamar didn't like his choices and chose to cry and throw a tantrum.

However, today I have been getting  glimpses of all our hard work. Mia invited Ava to play with the purses after breakfast and one thing led to another and soon the girls were pretending to go to a birthday party and were serving each other tea. There was no timer and the activity wasn't initiated by me. 45 minutes of cooperative play---it was beautiful. Something we would have never seen a month a ago. I got Lamar ready for school today. He went through the whole routine without once arguing. When I dropped him off he gave me a big hug and a kiss and told me to have a good day. A pretty nice way to start the day (for both him and me!).

The day could end differently than the way it started, but I will do my best to remember how far we have all come since our "our new friends" moved in almost two months ago!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Best 9 Cents Ever Spent

Yard Sale season is one of my favorite times of year. As it is now, if it wasn't for yard sales, thrift stores, and hand-me-downs we would have limited furniture, a tiny selection of toys, and only a few outfits. Some may say we are cheap, but I like to think frugal and good recyclers! Yesterday was a rainy Saturday, and I had an itch to go to a yard sale. Since the weather prevented that, I took one of my five children with me for a date to the thrift store. As we were browsing the toy section, we found a  toy blow dryer that sounds real when turned on. Mia thought it was pretty cool. It had a whopping price of 9 cents. It entertained her the whole time we were at the store. When we got home it was the hot item. Everyone wanted to use it. It entertained one of my daughters for an hour. She sat on the stairs with a doll, brush, and the blow dryer. The doll's hair looks like something out of the 80's now---poofy and teased. This morning it was the first toy to be used. When I got home from the grocery store this afternoon,  Ava and Dominic were sitting together fixing their doll's hair. I love when I find fun things for the kids to do at a low cost. The blow dryer has been worth every penny. When they get sick of it next week, it won't matter because it was 9 cents!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Putting our Easel to Use

Sometimes I find activity ideas on Pinterest for the kids, and after all the prep work find that they are not really into it. So, when I find something that keeps their interest, I love to share! Below is an idea that my three big kids keep going back to (including one of my 2 1/2 year olds who has about a 20 second attention span). All you need to do is tape contact paper (sticky side out) to an easel or even wall. Cut various shapes out of construction paper. The kids create a design on the contact paper using the shapes.  When they are finished they can take their design down and another child can make a new one! I have had the contact paper out for about a week and its still working great!