Monday, November 30, 2009

The Play Room

I don't know that I've ever posted pictures of our downstairs play room, but I cleaned it yesterday, so I took a few pictures. Half the room is our family room, with a couch, chairs, the TV and Wii and the fireplace. The other half the room is Ellie's play area. The corner is set up for Little People and Trains right now. Here's what it looks like:

play area

The Little People table is actually a train table I got off freecycle. It's perfect for keeping all her Little People up off the ground, though, and is nice for her to be able to stand up and play instead of stooping over onto the ground. I usually have it set up differently than this, but I just picked up the pieces instead of rearranging them on the table. Usually the road in the middle has little driveways that lead to each of the other Little People play stations.

little people table

The train table is also one I got off freecycle. It's not as pretty, for sure, but that just means I didn't feel bad about gluing the train set to the table. =D After months of other kids coming over and pulling the set apart (even after we SCREWED it to the table!) and ripping the pieces off the table, I decided I was over it and just glued it down. I don't even know if it will fit back up the stairs with the track glued down, but I don't care. Ellie can actually play with her train set now and other kids don't destroy it every time they come over. I used a LOT of glue. So the table was free, and the set itself we got for Ellie last Christmas for $30. Not a bad deal if you ask me! It's got a lot of trees and houses and animals and people and more cars and train pieces that go with the set, too, but they are in the basket underneath the table. Again, I was cleaning, not playing. =D

train table

I also have a little table and chair in the middle section. Ellie colors here, or plays with playdough. She doesn't use it very often, but it is nice for her to have a little place to create that is not back in her usual art area in my craft room. Sometimes I just like to keep her out of there. =D

Sunday, November 29, 2009


sunday school paper, originally uploaded by elizabethwickland.

Today I took a look at Eliana's sunday school paper and was very impressed that she was able to correctly draw lines to match the shapes to their shadows. This is the first sunday school paper I remember her bringing home that wasn't just a coloring sheet. The flip side had stickers to place, but I'll do another post about that side later. =D

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Can you guess what we did today?

Gingerbread House, originally uploaded by elizabethwickland.

I guess one of the best ways to kick off the holiday season is to put up your Christmas decorations, and then make a gingerbread house!

Our house isn't anything fancy, it's just a $10 kit from Costco. But it came complete with the gingerbread, icing, candy, and piping tip and bag... and loads of fun! Ellie had a GREAT time decorating this year and did all that you can see on the house by herself! (I did the other side.) I put the frosting on, Ellie added whatever candy she wanted, and Leif took pictures. It was a very fun family activity to kick off the holidays!

Angelina and Henry: A Book Review

Eliana LOVES ballet, ballerinas, and Angelina Ballerina. She pretends she is "balleting" around the living room, dressed in tutus, twirling around. She loves to dance. We watch Angelina Ballerina on Netflix, and she has a couple of the books. This morning she wanted me to read Angelina and Henry to her, and I realized I don't think I'd ever read it all the way through. So as we sat and read together, I thought I should share my thoughts on the book.

In general, the Angelina Ballerina books and movies are cute. They tend to deal with emotions and how to respond properly to situations, which I think is good to learn. They also provide opportunities to talk with your child about Angelina's behavior and whether she is making good choices or not. I personally find it easier to interject such discussions while reading the books than watching the movies, though, so I recommend the books for that reason. =D The videos are more for entertainment. =D

So... Angelina and Henry. They go backpacking with their uncle, and along the way wander off and get scared. Some of the things this book gives the opportunity to discuss are...

* paying attention and not wandering off the trail while hiking with others.
* persevering even when you're hot and tired.
* working together to set up camp and get a task done.
* not getting distracted when you have a job to do.
* dangerous things that might happen when you don't obey.
* being courageous, even when you're afraid.
* protecting those younger and weaker.
* spending time together as a family.

It's a cute book. I like it. And I think I'm going to put it in the list of books to read during the summer months. It's good any time of year, but particularly applicable when we're hiking and backpacking in the summer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Book Review

I have been reading Eliana some Thanksgiving books this month, so I thought I'd share the ones I've chosen and what I do or don't like about them. =D We have 3 that are specifically Thanksgiving related...

Over the River and Through the Woods by Lydia Maria Child. Illustrated by Christopher Manson.

I like this Thanksgiving poem. Until recently, I always thought that this was a Christmas song. Ha ha! I guess I'd never really paid attention to the words, though, because it is definitely a Thanksgiving poem! There are several books containing this poem, but I am a fan of the wood engraving style images instead of the cartoony images. I also really like that the music for the song is included at the end of the book. That makes it easier to teach the song to your kids, I think!

P is for Pilgrim by Carol Crane. Illustrated by Helle Urban.

I originally bought this book because it seemed similar to S is for Star, which I like so much for Christmas. I like how this book starts out, with the Mayflower (Across the Atlantic Sea...), the Bill of Rights, Corn... It all seems to be going well until J, when you suddenly get a picture of midwestern women in sweatshirts over turtlenecks, hair pulled back in pony tails, trading jars of jam. It's a sudden jolt of modernity before returning to the 1600s with K on the next page. There are a few pages like that where it seems like they couldn't come up with a good "pilgrim" word to go with the letter, so they just picked something random and autumn related instead. Even for P - unlike the title, the letter P in the actual book is for "pumpkin pudding, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin spicy pies." Other letters that seem out of place (not necessarily bad, just out of place for a Thanksgiving book) are R ("all races in our republic respect each other's rights and responsibility"), U ("a universal umbrella of nations..." about the United Nations), and V ("viva, volunteers! A very special day, the soup kitchen is ready to serve.") Like I said, not necessarily bad things, just strange to include in a Thanksgiving book, or a stretch for that particular letter. I can see the soup kitchen serving Thanksgiving meal included, but "Viva, Volunteers!"? It seems odd to me. The same is true with Z, which is about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "Zippy bands zigzagging down the street. Zebras trotting, zeppelin-like balloons afloat." There's a picture of a pilgrim kid in a parade riding a zebra. It just seems like kind of a stretch.

It also bothers me that some of the pages rhyme well, and others just seem a jumble of alliteration, with no concern for rhyme or meter.

Overall, this book is fine. There are some good tidbits throughout that are fun for kids. Most of the illustrations are pretty good. I don't feel like it's a very fluid book, though, with the jolts from past to present and the inconsistencies between alliteration and rhyme scheme from page to page. Like I said, it's fine. But when I read it, I'm always tempted to skip a few letters because they bother me.

Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey

This is probably my favorite book for Thanksgiving this year. I first saw it last year at Thanksgiving with Leif's family, so I ordered a copy for our family this year. I like a LOT of things about this book. The illustrations are beautiful. A large portion of the book is dedicated to the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. As far as I can tell, it's fairly historically accurate. The story is written in such a way that there is large text and small text. They both flow together, or, for younger kids, you can read just the large text for a shorter version of the story. I like that you can read it to younger kids in segments and the story hold their attention. It doesn't, however, sugar coat the details like most children's books do, and it doesn't use child like language. I actually like that about the book, but some people may not. It is written from a distinctly Christian perspective. I like that once Eliana is old enough for the full story, we can still use this book with the large and small text together.

Toward the end of the book there are quite a few pages for us to record our own stories of thankfulness God's blessings. We started today by writing down the things that each of us are thankful for (even Eliana, who, at 3, says she is thankful for "my slide, and my swings, and my rings, and and my beautiful princess kitty!") which also jump started our conversation at the meal and gave us an opportunity to explain to Eliana why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

The final thing that I like about this book is the CD that is included. It contains instrumental hymns of Thanksgiving that are great to listen to during the season!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Game Time

Game Time, originally uploaded by elizabethwickland.

Something we don't do with Eliana nearly as often as we should is have game time. She loves to play games, especially Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. I would like to make more of a point to play games with her.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Silly Popcorn!


This is obviously a warmer weather activity and not something we're doing outside now, as we have a foot of snow on the ground. But it was really fun for Eliana this summer, so I thought it would be worth mentioning!

The Set Up:

A big sheet or blanket, spread out
An air popper in the middle of the blanket, with the shield off
A little girl sitting on the sidelines, waiting expectantly

The Result:




It's way more fun than microwaving a bag of popcorn. =D

Monday, November 16, 2009

Halloween Leftovers

Face Paint
Originally uploaded by elizabethwickland
We went shopping shortly after Halloween to peruse the leftover sale items. One of our treasures from the day was a set of face paints. They don't come out every day, but when the weather keeps us inside, they make for a fun activity... This day Eliana wanted to be a butterfly, so I painted her like one, or my crude rendition of one. A little bit of paint, though, and her imagination took off, letting her flit about the house in butterfly land for hours.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What do you do on a snowy day?

Originally uploaded by elizabethwickland
Why, you make snowcones! We woke up to a foot of snow after a week in the 60's. It was a shock, I tell ya! But we are making the best of it, and eating snowcones. THAT'S why I stocked up on snow cone syrup when it was on sale this summer! ;)