Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Start of Two Honey Pots Blog

So I thought it was a good idea to start journalling what we get up to each day.

JJ is three years old, SamSam is two. With two active and curious boys I have to be on my toes everyday with things to keep their minds busy, their spirits nurtured, and their bodies moving!

A successful start with the boys sleeping in to 6:45am, Hallelujah!

Since the start of daylight saving, they've been waking up at 5:30am the last few weeks. Last night we plugged every single hole in the window where light could filter in. The room was completely black even at 7am! A very happy mummy.

As a result of a happy, non-sleep deprived mummy, we read 'The Three Little Pigs' in bed. JJ was a little apprehensive about the wolf the first few times we've read this book. He either hid behind me or his brother! He's much better now! SamSam laughs every time the wolf says he'll huff and puff the house down. He also laughs when the pigs say "No by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!"

While I made one of their favourite breakfasts - boiled eggs and toast soldiers, they amused themselves with the Thomas Sticker book, a brilliant reusable sticker activity given by their aunty :) They get to stick all the engines' faces and numbers on.

JJ the very neat eater.

SamSam, extremely messy eater.

After breakfast with my help they wash their hands and faces, brush their teeth and get changed. I find it doesn't drag on when you get all the getting-ready-stuff out of the way! Also it means if we suddenly decide to go out, it's a much easier process of just plugging on their shoes.

JJ dresses himself now. I just put out his clothes on his bed, and ask him to put them on.
I also keep his undies in the same spot each morning, so that when he wakes up he knows where it is. Usually without complaining to me about his wet nappy, he'll simply take off his pull-up nappy put on his undies. So easy!

JJ has also recently started to rummage in the drawer to choose his own clothes. But unfortunately the only drawer he can reach is the one that holds all their pyjamas! I need to get time to swap over the clothes drawers so he can reach his daytime clothes. I don't have the heart to ask him to change out of PJs he's just donned when he's been so good at doing it himself! But he looks quite cute in his PJs walking around the shops!!

I have my eye on a rather cool kids-sized IKEA cupboard that would be perfect for helping in the self-dressing department!

Craft Activity
We tend to do craft or reading after breakfast. I find that starting out with quiet activities, or learning activities is a good way to start the day. They are at their most alert and able to concentrate really well. I tend to ramp up the energy levels towards the end of the day when I want to get them really tired out in readiness for bed!

Today the boys did some drawing. I like to get them to practise holding the pens or crayons properly. They made some really pretty scribbles!

We did some dot-to-dots which is great for practising pencil control. The printout I used was a photocopy from a Thomas The Tank Engine writing book (you'll find Thomas to be a common theme in my postings). I've found our homeoffice printer/photocopier to be an incredible resource. I buy activity books and photocopy whatever activities I want them to do. Means I can reuse the books too!

The last few weeks we've been decorating cut-out Christmas trees in readiness for Christmas cards. So the boys did some painting and glueing (their favourrrrrite). We've got quite a collection of trees now. Might be time for mummy to start pasting them into cards!

We read today's devotion which was 'Don't Worry'. I love this little devotions book. It's especially written and illustrated for preschoolers, and so well done. The illustrations are by the same artist who drew the Care Bears!! Very, very sweet.

I feel that devotions are a great way to start to instill in the boys an understanding about the wonderful God who made us and loves us! It also has very good teaching about interacting with others, like sharing, forgiving, taking turns, and things like emotions. Great things for them to understand as they start to go to kindy and playgroups and get so much more social. It's brilliant!!!

Right this very minute the boys are watching a Sesame Street DVD on Numbers and Letters. JJ specifically requested the numbers episode, and they both love it. Usually I only allow them one hour of TV a day, and only in the afternoon. But if it's purely educational I'm a bit less strict.

We live in a really great location that is in walking distance to parks, shops, our health centre and our local library. We usually go once a week to the library and borrow five or six books. We'll read these books once or twice a day, every day, so that the boys really get to understand any new words and concepts. It's exciting to hear Jae use words that he's picked up through reading the books.

More recently I've also found that they like books that have onomatopeia (oohh, I can't believe I actually remember that word! The memories of high school English comes flooding back!). We recently borrowed a really nice book called the 'Rain Train', the writer portrayed the sound of the rain coming down as "A pitter-pat-pat, a pitter-pat-pat a pittery-pittery-pittery-pat". The boys would always laugh at the sound of the words! They love rhythms!

While we were out, we found many interesting things to talk about and play:

Paw prints! Who do you think made these?
SamSam throws stones into a muddy puddle.
JJ finds a snail! We nudge it and it goes back inside its shell.

Lunch was fish congee made by Daddy in the pressure cooker! JJ really loves congee in particular. We love the pressure cooker as it's so quick and easy to prepare food. You just cut things up and bung it in the cooker, turn it on, forget about it, and by the time you remember it again, it's ready!!

In the middle of lunch SamSam was dozing off (we're trying to drop his morning nap), so we put him to bed. When there's only one boy to look after it's a great opportunity to do age-specific stuff with them, and you can see they are really quite chuffed that you're spending time solely with them.

Board Games For Toddlers
With SamSam asleep, JJ and I played a Thomas boardgame. I found this really cool collection of simple dice games bound together in an oversized book, at an Op shop in the country for only 50 cents! It has five dice boardgames with Thomas characters! Dice games are great to play with pre-schoolers because they practise counting, taking turns, and the learn the concept of winning and losing graciously (something that I must have struggled with when I grew up!).

Writing Practice
After the game we did some writing practice on one of those write-on/wipe-off books. JJ did a very passable attempt at writing the word 'house'! It's a good book because he can also do dot to dots in it, and I can wipe it all off later with a baby wipe. I just guide him a little bit with writing the letters, and if he wants to draw and doodle then that's fine.

SamSam still has around 1.5 hours sleep, JJ only 30 minutes. So after SamSam has been asleep close to an hour, I put JJ in. When they are both asleep I quickly clear away the lunch dishes (saving the washing for later), and head to bed myself for a quick powernap. I need to get enough energy for the rest of the day!

Makeshift Tent
After a good nap, we're up and at-em! I put up a makeshift tent in the boys room using their sponge sofas for the walls and a small mattress for the roof. They play for a little while and end up playing chase around the apartment.

Kerplunk Toddler Game
By popular demand the Kerplunk game was brought down from the cupboard. They simply love the combination of the coloured sticks, and holes, and marbles! It is especially good for fine motor skill development as it requires a considerable amount of concentration for little ones to thread the sticks through both holes in the cylinder. They also love the sound and excitement of the marbles falling down as they pull out the sticks!

When it comes to boardgames we only play twice before we put the game away. I find that once is too little, and by the third time they'll lose interest in it. It's much better that they still retain a 'keeness' to play the game for the next time. They always help me to put away the game, as well as setup in the beginning.

Afternoon Tea
We don't always have afternoon tea - it depends on how well they ate at lunch. Since SamSam hardly ate, they shared an apple. SamSam is going through some weird eating thing where he chews up the food in his mouth, and then spits it out - all chewed up - on his plate. I have to insist that he puts it back into his mouth, chew properly - "like a crocodile" and 'put it in his tummy.' It seems to be working, but it's a longish process.

I'm starting to wonder if he has an overbite, as his top teeth jutt out a bit from his bottom teeth when they are clenched together. This could be why he's having chewing issues? We have to go to the dentist soon (yikes), so we'll get that checked out.

Wet Weather
We attempt to play outside, but as soon as we get our gumboots on and out to the bikes, it's raining! We run back in, and I'm racking my brains with what to do with two suddenly highly energetic boys.

We commence on a series of games that only hold their attention for a few minutes at a time! I'm trying to figure out what will settle them. We play:
  • Music - I put on their favourite music for dancing and using their percussion. We dance and run around their bedroom for two songs, then they get distracted by trying to wrestle each other...
  • Stuffed Toy Throwing - I came up with this game a few weeks ago. The boys' beds are positioned head to toe against each other. I found that when they are each in their own beds and they have a big pile of soft toys, they can expend a lot of energy by throwing the toys over the top of the head and foot of the beds. It's bit a like having a pillow fight!
  • The stuffed toy throwing morphs into pet shop role playing, and then the play settles down into calmer play.
Role Playing - At the Pet Shop & the Supermarket
The boys really love going to look at the animals at the pet shop. They love rabbits and kittens in particular. We have one stuffed toy rabbit and one toy cat. We pretended they were in the pet shop and they went and bought them (cardboard money) and took them home in a nice box. They pretended to pay money for the pets, and then got in their 'car' and drove home with them. When they got home they fed them, petted them, and put them in the 'rabbit hutch' (the cat went in too).

This play morphed into going to the supermarket - whenever they get into a pretend car, they end up going to the supermarket. We have a very meagre supply of toy fruit - a banana, a tomato and some grapes - which I picked up for a few cents at the local school market, plus some other 2D food I've cut out of supermarket brochures and mounted onto cardboard and laminated. They like pretending to go shopping, putting things in their plastic trolley, putting the food through the cash register, and paying money at the checkout. This can go on for a while, if you get them to take turns being the checkout person, and the person shopping.

The Rain Stops
Thank God, the rain finally stops, and we can go outside and expend some energy. The boys take turns on a second-hand tricycle I picked up yesterday through eBay. Surprise, surprise it's a Thomas tricycle. We go round and round, and round our wrap-around balcony. Thank goodness it's large enough to get some exercise! A good 40 minutes and it's getting cloudy again. We go inside, and it's TV time for the boys, and rest time for mummy!

Dinner is roast lamb with mash potato, courtesy of Daddy chef! JJ eats a huge meal and SamSam is more picky. Mandarins are for dessert. We finish the day with a quick shower, a sit on the sofa next to mummy and read all the library books. Definitely my favourite part of the day.

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