Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Table Time

As an early childhood educator, I'm well aware that it's never too early to start some "table time" with your kids.  Letting kids draw, paint, cut, do playdoh, stickers, etc. is important for their fine motor skill development and possibly more useful than that, it keeps them occupied and out of trouble while I cook!

First, they started with some stamps.
 Dagny eventually got the hang of it, though she wore a fair amount of ink.
 Then, they moved onto bingo dotters.
 Finally, they each got a pencil to draw with.  Dagny entertained herself quite nicely coloring her paper and her placemat, but thankfully not the table.  Finley did some great drawings, some of this first that actually resembled what he had hoped to draw (rocket ship, house) and then I challenged him to write his WHOLE name (which has never been much of an interest to him).  He did an amazing job!
 And then it was lunch time, good work everyone!

But just to prove that in the end both Finley and Dagny are goofballs and not mild-mannered artists, the other night before bed they took turns showing off their feet clapping skills on the couch.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Finley Gets Ready to Turn Four

We've been counting down since November began (with a paper chain) and yesterday was the main event, Finley turned four!!  This is the first year that he truly had a sense of what a birthday is and how it is celebrated.  We've had a lot of planning to do and it all paid off because Finley's birthday week was   lots of fun and he enjoyed every minute of it.

On Thursday, I took the morning off from school and went into Finley's class to read a book, do a project, and share snack.  Finley proudly sat beside me and helped me hold the book as I read What Can A Crane Pick Up? to his eager classmates.  Then, each child colored in a picture of a crane and then picked something silly for it to pick up from a selection of clip art that I had brought.  Finley chose a piece of pizza, others chose fairy castles, airplanes, apple trees, whales, pirate ships, etc.  We put each page into a binder with page protectors and now the kids keep their new "book" in the class library.  They were quite pleased with themselves!! Then, we passed out the snack that Finley had picked out from the supermarket: green grapes and Kix.  They sang "Happy Birthday" in english and hebrew after saying the blessing over the food and we all ate up.  I had a little bit of time left, so I read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to Finley and his new best bud before saying goodbye.  It was so fun to see Finley in action where he spends so much of his time these days and quite interesting to be the parent in the classroom, not the teacher!

Friday after school, Finley and Dagny's grandparents from New York arrived and joined us for Tot Shabbat at temple.  Finley got to hear "Happy Birthday" in hebrew again during the service and he just beamed.  After putting the kids to bed that night, we really got the party prep underway.  Hanging streamers and putting up all the laminated photo copies of Finley's favorite train illustrations from at least a dozen of his favorite books.  Not to mention hang up all the name trains that I made for Finley and each of his guests :) Here are Finley and Dagny's:
The basement was nearly ready, but it wasn't worth cleaning up all the toys and such until right before the party since both kids ADORE playing down there all the time.  The next morning, Finley and the rest of the house went to his sports class as I continued to get the house in party mode.  We took a lovely walk/bike ride around the neighborhood afterwards and then Finley and I zoomed off to buy two birthday balloons: one for the tree near the end of the driveway and one for the basement (i.e. one for Dagny and one for Finley).  The kids had some lunch and then it was down for early naps while the grown ups finished up setting up the basement, putting out the snacks, etc. for the party.

New Stuff

Finley got some AMAZING presents this year and he had fun trying them out, especially those that were "too grown up" with "teeny tiny pieces that Dagny could eat."
Hungry Hungry Hippos!!
 A Lego garbage truck (his first - probably of many - true Lego sets)
 Lincoln logs!
 A crane truck!
He also got a much needed baseball glove from GG and Grandpa that truly made him jump up and down.  We'd lost his mitt at the playground earlier this fall and it was rather devastating to his organized and careful parents and to our baseball loving kiddo.  He loved showing off his baseball skills in the front yard right after opening it! Dagny "bought" him some books he'd been eying and a new train bridge.  Several other very thoughtful and amazingly perfect gifts arrived as well - too many to list - Finley felt very loved and often remarked "this is the one I always wanted!"  Hope his fine motor skills are up to the challenge of writing all the thank you notes he owes his family and friends!

Finley Turns 4

November 16, 2009 to November 2013 - Finley is four!
Thank you, Aunt Caitlin, for collaging these photos of Finley from the past four years on or near his birthday.

We kicked off Finley's train themed party with some wonderful outside time since it was surprisingly decent out for November in New England.  Finley greeted his guests and everyone had fun bounding around outside. We invited some family friends, a few friends from his first Acton preschool, and his classmates at his current school. All in all, about 22 kids and 25+ adults, yikes! Good thing we could be outside to start!

 After about 30 or 40 minutes, we headed inside to the basement to have music with a former colleague of mine who teaches music in Newton.  Finley was excited and sat right down with his pals.
Here's a close up of the cute shirt I had made on Etsy.
 Dagny woke up just in time and GG brought her outside right as we were heading inside, she loved the music as much as the big kids.
 Finley took being the center of attention better than I had anticipated, though he remained modest :)
Paula brought instruments, too, and the drums were a bit hit (literally and figuratively).
The music fun ended with a traditional "Happy Birthday."

The cake was perfect and totally allergy safe since I had it made by a woman who makes cakes out of her peanut-sesame-etc. free kitchen.  Thanks to Gabi and Dave for picking it up before the party!!
The marble cake was moist and yummy and I even let the birthday boy have seconds.  After everyone had cake, the kids had a blast playing around in our basement and upstairs playroom.
 We were so proud of how Finley handled all the attention and managed to completely enjoy himself throughout such an overstimulating experience! After saying goodbye to all his friends, opening a couple of gifts, and eating dinner - Finley asked for some much needed downtime and GG happily obliged with some truck videos on youtube.
We snapped a few other shots right before bed as Finley donned his new Bruins jersey from my brother's family - he LOVES this jersey and wore it all day Sunday and even requested putting it back on over his PJs after getting out of the bath!

 A wonderful way to end such a special day, Happy 4th Birthday Finley!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Two of a Kind

As I scrolled through my photos on my phone this weekend, I realized that I had more photos of both kids together rather than solo shots.  I think that is in part because the bigger Dagny gets, the more she can do the things her brother is doing and she loves every minute of it.

On Halloween, after a week of flip flopping about whether or not he wanted to go trick or treating at all (he got spooked last year by some creepy costumes/masks), Finley wanted to don his pirate gear and head out to a few houses.  Dagny wasn't willing to wear either of the handmedown costumes we were given (ladybug or bumblebee) but carried the ladybug one on her lap in the stroller. She was more than happy, however, to carry a bucket just like Finley.
Later in the week, I was giving the two a bath and had to dash out of the bathroom for a second (I know, bad mommy).  I asked Finley to make sure Dagny didn't slip and as I walking back towards the bathroom, I hear Finley yelling so I panic and start running.  Turns out, he was yelling "Mommy, come take a picture of us" and this is what I saw when I arrived as I ripped my phone out of my back pocket.
He went on to tell me, "We need a picture because this is it is such a special day together in the bath" and "We don't have any pictures like this." My heart melted.

Finley loves playing football in the basement, especially the tackling part, and Dagny has learned how to join in.  Usually she just tackles Dan and I, but the other day she saw Finley with the ball and once he was on the ground - she seized the opportunity!

She did have to be physically removed right after this photo was snapped since she doesn't tend to give up too easily.  Finley may need to hit the gym to be able to escape his little sister's wrestling type moves!

Goofing around on Dan's lap.
Last week, a boy in my class was having a bit of a rough morning and he said to me, "I just wish my family was still 3 instead of 4. I miss my mornings with my Mama." My heart broke as I comforted this little guy who is 6 and has a 12 week old baby sister at home.  As I drove home that afternoon reflecting on the day, I thought how blessed we are that Finley truly adores being a big brother, having a Dagny as a sister, and wasn't old enough to remember life before her!