Monday, March 19, 2012

Oh! Balls.

The most versatile and simple toy that seems to be universal and timeless is the ball.  Today it seems as though it will be ball!  No seriously, the little one has had endless fun this morning playing with various balls around the house and kitchen. 

We started off with a basket of balls that I try to have ready for her.  Most often we have to hunt and find them from the four corners of the house, under dusty beds and couches.  But, when it's all nice and neat and kept for display, it is always enticing for activity.  I purchased a variety of balls with size, color, and most importantly texture.

Most people think I hate plastics and that I don't have anything like that in the home, NOT true.  To anyone who has been to my house, we do have some plastic toys.  Balls are one of them.  I think it would be pretty difficult to have children throwing wooden balls around the house.  No, no.  The other thing I have been opposed to are light up and sound making toys.  This is generally true. Unless it's a music instrument, there are no electrical noise making toys.  The one light up toy that I okay-ed was one of those hard bouncy balls that light up upon impact that my husband brought home from a work freebie. 

This has been so interesting to see how the little one learned to connect that the ball must be bounced hard for it to light up.  Simply rolling it does not turn it on.  She also discovered today that the effects of the lights are much brighter if she can squeeze between the couch and the computer table to the dark little corner, and then try to crawl behind the sofa.  It's amazing to see the brain making these connections right in front of you. 
Sorry for the fuzzy photo, but a moving child and light up ball on a cloudy day is hard to get.

Besides the plastic balls, we also have these pegs.  I bought them for my older daughter for her second Christmas, but at the time was looking for small pegs and wooden board similar to Cribbage Unfortunately I couldn't find one that wasn't the actual game, or a simple version of it.  I just wanted her to have the activity of putting the pegs into the holes. I saw that this activity was interesting to her whenever she helped my husband build any of the IKEA furniture.  He would have her insert the pegs into the little holes and then they would assemble the furniture together.  So, I found this game instead.  I do like it.  I does have some purposeful activities besides what I had wanted.  The pegs are also stack-able and you can then have them place them in rows of colors and such.  Now, I find that this is good for the little one, as the pegs are big and easy to grasp and not much of a choking hazard (One day I will also write about this).
 Here, I placed the pegs in the board and she mostly took them all out.  Below, she is trying to place them on top of each other. 

We also started on our tomato seeds from tomato fest.  I have been using their seeds for the last 3 years and have been so happy with each and every variety.  I think I have some 30 or more varieties by now, no I think it's more like 40.  This year, mostly a new batch with a repeat all time favorite of everyone's- the Black Cherry tomato.  I'm trying to be more organized and efficient, and with my helper who is now on her 3rd year of helping has really learned the ropes, it makes it a lot more fun, more work, but more fun. 

Also, in the greenhouse are some watermelon seeds, various cucumber seeds, some Thai and Chinese long beans, and colorful Asian eggplants.  We've had an unusual amount of rain over the last two days including hail, so I'm hoping that my newly sprouted radishes, and carrots will survive.  Also in the beds are Rainbow corn, and some Lemon Sunflowers.  The 3 year old had a blast gardening in her undies and planting almost all the corn seedlings from the nursery.  She dug the holes, loosened the root ball and then covered it back up.  I was so happy to see that she is now able to do this on her own and that the plants will survive!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gardening and Camping

The past two weekends have been a rush of outdoor activities.  Last weekend we had our friends over for an annual (since it's our second time) gardening event.  We expanded the yard with boxes, pulled out the rusted rose bushes, and got a few seedlings in the ground.  With all the new babies and growing kids, it was a rush of activity and LOADS of fun.

 Making homemade finger paint for the kids.

 The garden "To Do" list.  Still lots to do.

 Next year, we may need an adult size wheelbarrow.
 Before, or in the process of.

 After, and still more to come.
The beets that got pulled out to make room for the beds.  Not fully grown, so slightly on the bitter side.  Golden Beets and Chioggia.

This past weekend, we went camping with some friends for two nights.  Our departure times was quite a few hours later than planned which left us with cranky kids while packing, cranky parents trying to pack, a tired family heading on the road at 4 pm on a Friday, and getting to the campsite just before sunset, only to have to unpack and get kids fed ASAP before the freezing weather set in.

This had to be one of the more memorable and miserable trips we've had in the recent years.  Memorable since the kids had so much fun, on their bikes, hiking, and playing in "the wild".  The set up their own fort/camp just behind our campsite in the bushes under some old oaks.  They ran around getting ready to build campfires and have their own adventures.  It was about 10 minutes after they left their "wild" that we heard the cracking of a branch and about 30 seconds later a HUGE limb of an old oak came crashing down 10 feet from where the kids had been.  Well, what can I say.

 Hiding in the "wild"
 See that giant limb on the ground to the left, that's what fell.  See the sprigs of a bush on the right, that's from the picture above where they were hiding under.

California lilac bush that blooms this time of year.  Just gorgeous!

The misery came at night.  The cold was tolerable wearing 3 layers of clothes and 2 jackets, a hat, gloves, and 2 pairs of socks including Himalayan yak wool ones from India.   But no, this is not what was truly miserable.  It was my 1 year old who decided she wanted to nurse about every hour and screamed so loud the entire campground could hear her.  Since we only took our sleeping bags and lots o blankets for under, inside, and 1 for baby and me to go over, she was nice and toasty.  I on the other hand, had only my feet tucked into the sleeping bag and the rest hanging out.  Getting the top half of my clothes partially off to nurse her every hour and then have to get it all back on and tucked in to keep warm all took approximately an hour, so as you can do the math, I would just about fall asleep when she was about ready to be at it again.  2 nights of this and I was about to go insane.  The day time, on the other hand, made up for it all, and I suppose I'm ready to do it all over again in a few months, like in April, oh wait, that's next month.

 A mix of greens from our garden and homemade anchovy dressing, my new addiction.
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