Thursday, January 26, 2012

Apples and oranges

I keep a bowl of apples and oranges on my kitchen counter for two reasons. 1) We love a tasty, juicy, fruity snack. And really who doesn't? 2) To remind me not to compare them.

As a mom I find myself "comparing". I think it's a pretty natural habit. I also think it's a pretty unfair habit.  Gooses and ganders don't always have to have what's good for the other. Being, having, doing something of your own is divine and special and unique. Not being, having, doing something can also be divine and special and unique.

Recently I started watching some little neighborhood kids so I could make a little money and still be home with my guy. That's when the whole comparison thing really hit me. I was thinking things and sometimes even uttering things, competitive things I would have never imagined. Yuck. That is so not me. I started sounding like one of those people I never wanted to become. Argh. Thoughts of sibling rivalry and class bullies and cheerleaders danced in my head. It had to stop. And so it did.

Back in the recesses I can hear peepings of it, but if I go grab a clementine I can generally drown it out. This may be one of those things I have to constantly watch - like my weight and The Daily Show. But maybe an apple a day will not just keep doctors away, but also years of therapy for my son.


You win some, you loose some...

So I've been trying a different art project everyday this week with the little guy. It's been great so far!! We're really having a blast together and, as odd as this sounds, it seems the whole week has just been... well... nicer. He's always a great kid. I know, I know, that's what all moms say blah blah blah. But no, really, he's a pretty good kid. But this week, he's even better. Even gooder. Maybe he needed a creative outlet? I dunno. I thought that was reserved for his future repressed adult work life. Who knew. Toddlers need to express themselves. I mean other than crying, laughing, shouting, and general emoting all over the place anytime they feel like it. Okie dokie.

So back to the art stuff. Today I tried something I thought would be the blast of all blasts. I thought this would be so fun, that if there was an entire planet made up of only fun things, this would be the most fun thing on that entire planet of fun things.

Survey says?.... XXX

Nope. Ok, maybe just a not yet. I think it will be super fun - one day. Just. not. today.

The adventure started off pretty well. We went outside (gorgeous day, btw) to have a treasure hunt. We gathered all sorts of cool things - stuff with crazy textures and colors, dried twigs and dead flowers and dirt and tree bark and some soft budding plant things and leaves and all kinds of hoo ha. That lasted well over an hour. It was awesome. Got some good vitamin D and had some fun. Hooray!

After the gatherings, I told the little guy we were gonna go make art. He got super excited. He ran inside yelling, "aaaart!!!" Sweet! I did the ceremonious stripping him down and plopped him in his chair. He was read-ee! Then I went to the counter, cut a big ole rectangle of contact paper, ripped off the backing and put it in front of him. His hands went directly on it and he dug the sticky. Then I put our treasures in front of him and told him to press them on the sticky. Ok. A couple of little bits sort of made their way toward the contact paper. Most of them just went in his fist where they were promptly crumbled to bits and tossed on the floor. So then I tried to get in on the act. I started pressing stuff on the paper to entice him. Meh. More crumblings, more tossing. Then the whole shebang went down. It was a Ye Olde Boredom Toss. The contact paper was no mas and dirty dried bits were all over the breakfast room. Oh yay for me.

Sir was still wanting to make, "aaart!!!" so we pulled out the paints and markers and what not and he went to town while I swept away our afternoon experiment. Ho hum. It's cool though, he had a great time squishing yellow and green and blue in his fingers and rubbing them on paper. We both laughed and enjoyed each other. I hung today's masterpiece on the wall next to the rest of this week's brilliance. We'll try the treasure collage again when he's a bit older. But ya know, it just may not be his medium. Or, maybe it will. :o)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Salty Sticky Messy

Yahoo!!! Today was a salty sticky messy blast! Our little adventure down the path of toddler art was a hoot!

OK, so here's what we tried today...

I cut some contact paper into rectangles and taped it smooth side down/sticky side up on the plastic table cloth. After peeling off the backing, I poured salt all over the sticky side. Then I stripped my boy down, plopped him in the chair and handed him a paint brush. First we used water colors. That was pretty cool. The water gave movement to the salt so the colors sort of crawled across the surface. After a few minutes I added some crayola paint. I just blobbed and dribbled the colors in random spots. It was much thicker and gave a whole different tactile and visual experience. Pax used the brushes and his fingers and loved all the sensations!!! Of course Play Dough had to enter the mix and take it to a whole new level of wahoo! There was some tasting and then some immediate "bbbbllllttthhhzzz" happening. It was pretty hilarious.

Once again he was covered in goop and giggling. What I loved most though, was his concentration. His focus on what he was doing was rather Jedi. The force was strong with this project. Consider it a must try with your wee ones!!!


Let there be mess!!!

So last night we received a "special" gift in the mail!! The actual contents of the package left on my porch are not what's key here. What is key is the stuff that kept the hoo-ha from breaking - Styrofoam peanuts. Oi! They are the bane of my existence... or I should say, were the bane of my existence. No mas! I found a fun and quite hilarious way of taking care of the little buggers.

It use to be that we would get a granny gram and the peanuts would spill out and get everywhere and stick to everything and we'd sweep and sweep and sweep and never get them all up and yada yada yada. We would do everything in our power to keep the little one away from them. There'd be tears and frustration all around. Icky poo poo.

Last night I surrendered. I gave in. I took the ole "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" adage and let loose! Pax and I pulled all the staticy little jack wagons out of the box and had at 'em. I told him to crunch them up and stomp on them and rip them apart and make them as tiny as he could. Boy was he good at this task! We spent a good 45 minutes giggling and destroying. It was a blast!!!! They were all over both of us. In our hair, up our noses, clinging to our pants. We looked like little white mosaics of ourselves.

When the fun was all over and Pax was downing a bottle of milk from laughing so hard, I snuck off and grabbed the vacuum. I revved that puppy up and those pesky pieces of styrofoam torture were sucked to oblivion in no time flat! Gone! All of them!!! Hosah for hoovers! It was the fastest and most fun way to rid our home of packing poop. I highly recommend trying this next time Mr UPS leaves a treasure at your door.


Toddler Art 101

For a while now I've been thinking about how and when to introduce Pax to making art - other than crayon scibbles on notepads and magnadoodling, that is. So I came across this wonderful website that inspired the poop kittens out of me! It was chock full of art adventures for 1-3 year olds. And they're really fun and cool and... ok, I wanna do them myself.

This morning I woke up with a mission - we were going to get our art on!!! Pax and I headed out to a Big Lots (my maiden voyage to one of these buggers! Why haven't I been in one of these before?) We wandered the aisles grabbing anything and everything that made us go, "ooo!" This included some clearance Christmas garland, yarn, contact paper, salt, a variety of beads, play dough, water color paints, a cool Crayola "Get Started" pack (crayons, chalk, markers, colored pencils & paint), sketch paper and a big green plastic tablecloth. We were set!

We got home and little bear immediately went to play in his dirt-barrow and I giggled my way into the breakfast room. First I cleared the table and spread out the plastic tablecloth. Then I started unloading the goods. Weee!!! I grabed up Pax, put him in a chair and unleashed the Play Dough. More weeee!!!!! We strated off just squishing and gooing and pulling and stretching. Then we made the quintessential snakes. He hisssed and giggled and yelled, "Bue nake!" and "Ed nake!" and "Ellow nake!" It was awesome to see him this excited! Turtles were constructed as were funny faces with moveable features. It was awesome!

Next up were the markers. It was love at first pen stroke! He thought these were the coolest thing since... well, since Play Dough. Sooooo much cooler than crayons! The lines could be fat or skinny and the colors were bright and, AND they turn fingers green and blue and rainbow!! Rock on markers, rock on!!! We then flowed through the colored pencils, chalk and crayons, but nothing held a candle to the markers. Needless to say we wound up with green and blue dripping off his chin and little color spots in places I had no idea he could reach. Colors were mixed up and the Play Dough was markered up and crayons were chewed and everything was everywhere. It was a glorious mess!!!!! 

The initial art fest lasted just over an hour. My heart broke when he wanted to get down and move on to greener pastures, but it soon fluttered again as he came back to the table multiple times throughout the evening hollaring "Pay Dough!!!" 

It was a fun intro to making art. I can't wait for tomorrow! We have something waaaay cool on the agenda. Something even messier and (I hope) awesomer!!! I'll let ya know how it turns out.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Eve

Oh how I love a celebration!!! This season we combined Shawn's 40th with New Year's. Yay for me! It was an amuse bouche potluck with a loose interpretation. People could bring an appetizer, snack or dessert of their choosing. The theme was ringing in the new year - duh! For the table I placed a small clock collection with a merchants bell and a wire Chrysler building in the center surrounded by a champagne bucket, festive cupcakes and the amuse. The cupcakes were butter chocolate and the one on top had a white fun-fetti cake ball decorated with silver and pearl sprinkles poked into it to represent Times Square. My amuse were individual caprese salads - basically fresh mozzarella and a grape tomato skewerd in a basil leaf and sprinkled with balsamic & olive oil - and gorgonzola & carmelized onion puff pastries. Just before midnight all who were not naturally mustachioed became so and we counted down the New Year with trumpets of champagne and 12 grapes each. It is a Spanish tradition to eat 12 grapes at Midnight - each grape represents the upcoming months. Some are sweet and some are a bit...tangy, shall we say. For each sweet grape, a sweet month and... you get the picture. In addition to mustachios, we all donned paper chapeaus, plastic bead necklaces and tooted horns & whistles. Nothing like some good old fashioned cheese!!! Hope you can join us next year!!!