Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Best Birthday Party Ever!!"

Today was a special day, Jeff's birthday!  Nate and Elli LOVE birthdays and were very excited to throw Papa a party.  In fact they were a bit dismayed when I shared that it would be a simple family party with the four of us. (They recently watched an episode of Curious George where George threw the Man with the Yellow Hat a surprise party.)  Once the initial dissatisfaction with this arrangement was over, both embraced throwing Papa a "simple" party.  At the end of the night Nate announced that this was "the best birthday party ever!"  I have to agree, tonight was the most fun I've had at a birthday party in a long time!

Today was organic in nature... not overly planned, in fact other than the cake, nothing about the day had really been set.  Our day started with an adventure to pamper and surprise Papa...immediately dressing the kids, whisking them out the door, packing them in the car, and driving to the next town over for Papa's favorite doughnuts (their's too!).  We came back home, dropped breakfast with a note and ran onto the grocery store to pick out ingredients for a special meal.  

The kids had ownership of much of the process and they adore Jeff - a fun combination.  They picked out the sports plates and blue balloons at the Dollar Store.  Each made paper cakes decorated with oil pastels and paper strip candles.  They helped tidy up with less than normal prompting, so it would be nice when Papa came home from work. 

Nate and Elli wanted to decorate the cake.  We had done this with Elli's cake, but personally I found the crunch of the candy on the frosting a bit off-putting and sweet.  This time we took one of our favorite activities and adapted it for a cake.  My fruit fans love to make fruit kabobs.  Kabob sticks + various fruits = engaging activity and beautifully fun to eat snack for later. Today we found beautiful strawberries and blackberries at the market and they paired beautifully with our cake, Chocolate Cassata  As a side-note, Mrs. Beck would be proud - Nate loves to use the patterns he learns at school while threading the fruit on his stick.  "I'm making an A A B B pattern Mama!" 
Recent Fruit Kabobbing
Focussed family time!  With Jeff finishing up his Master's next month, we have been on a weird family schedule with bits and pieces here and there.  Tonight school work was set aside for a couple of hours to celebrate!

Simple games to fit the space and kids abilities.  Elli wanted to play tag and Nate wanted to play soccer.  Jeff suggested, "Balloon Bounce."  We all worked to keep balloons up in the air without catching them.  We laughed and had a lot of fun!  When this became old we played "Boof."  A game invented by our friends Todd and Tricia when their children were young which involves "boofing" each other with a soft object.  Tickles and giggles ensued.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Doctor's Office Tranquility...?

Elli recently had her three year check-up.  For some, doctor's visits are a semi-traumatic annual experience, but we're fortunate. Other than the occasional shot reluctance, our kids are pretty laid back.  There are a lot of little things that we do that make it relatively easy:

  1. Find a great pediatrician that meets your family's needs.  Get recommendations from friends or parents at your local playgroup.  Go and meet your pedi. with your child.  How do they interact?  Does your child like her/him?
  2. We focus on our need to be healthy throughout the year.  A doctor's visit is just part of that process.
  3. Model good doctor's visits.  The kids have each gone to the doctor's with Mama at various times and seen Mama remain calm, even while getting a shot.
  4. Play doctor at home.  I found a doctor's kit at a thrift store for $2. Let the kids be the doctor and you the patient.  Switch roles.  If fears come out, talk about them.  
  5. We talk about the visit beforehand, sharing expectations of the visit. This is a great time to sense any anxiety and talk about it.  
  6. When they ask if they're going to have a shot before the visit, I answer honestly.  We talk about how it might feel like a pinch for a minute or two, but will help them stay healthy throughout the year.
  7. Feed the child!  We all get cranky when we're hungry.  If my child is comfortable then we have fewer meltdowns (works for grocery shopping too).
  8. Keep a list of questions with your child's shot record and bring them both with you! 
  9. Let your child answer as many of the doctor's questions as possible.  This one is often tough for me, but I'm realizing that this empowers them, giving them a chance to take charge of their medical experience, something that will serve them well.
  10. We go prepared for fun!  The doctor's office is a mini-field trip.  It's their chance to explore a new profession. Our pediatrician is great!  She lets the kids check out her equipment and ask questions.
  11. Finally, I often have something hiding in my bag of tricks.  For Elli's visit I had our bag of animals (this bag often goes into restaurants for the pre-meal wait) and a box of crayons.  If your doctor's office is like most, it probably comes fully equipped with a perfect piece of drawing paper already laid out on the examination table.  Why not put it to good use while you wait?!  When our pediatrician came in Elli was laying quite comfortable on her tummy drawing on the examination table paper ready to tell the doctor about her artwork which lead effortlessly into the day's questions and exam!  For one of Nate's visits I had a new matchbox car that he could play with while we waited. If bringing both children I have something for both but something specifically to keep the non-doctor's-visit child engaged throughout the visit.  

I'd love to hear your ideas for an anxiety reduced/free doctor's visit!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Arrrggg... Nice Pirates!

When in college I had to return one break with a favorite childhood toy.  Ahhh... the life of a recreation major!  For my choice I brought in some paper. Yes, I had forgotten to grab something at home, but also I spent  hours playing with paper.  Hats, airplanes, origami, coutoure dresses for my dolls, tic-tac-toe, hangman, not to mention drawing and coloring...  

So today's activity was one of those quintessential childhood activities... PAPER HATS!!

While there are a number of great websites that share the directions for a basic paper hat, I've added a few tricks to refine the fit.  You'll need a newspaper and double sided tape.

Start with a full double page of a standard newspaper.  Folded, with the fold at the top. 
(This picture is already folded).

Then fold right edge to the middle crease and tear or cut off at your new crease line like so...

Fold your new smaller rectangle in half to make a new middle crease line.  Unfold.  Once this is done, fold the top right corner down to the center crease.  Repeat with the left top.  This is where the double face tape comes in.  Take one piece and place it across the center fold, but under the newly folded flaps.  This will secure the top portion of you pirate hat.  

Fold one bottom edge up to meet the bottom of your triangle. Then repeat so you have a double thickness.  Flip hat over and repeat on the back of the hat.

Secure the newly formed band of your hat with 2-3 pieces of double sided tape on each side. 

Accessorize and wear!
(Or as in our case, go crazy and make them for the kids and all their stuffy friends!)