Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gobblet Gobblers

Gobblet Gobblers is another game daddy picked out that I must admit I was a bit skeptical about. I mean really, you can't just play tic tac toe without wooden figurines?

Well, it has ended up Sophia's favorite quick 2 person game that can be squeezed in just before dinner or bedtime, never disappoints, and is simple enough that even Maggie can "help" daddy from time to time.

Far from being just game pieces for tic tac toe, this game gives the opportunity to change strategies as your opponent's pieces line up, and makes it a bit easier and more interesting for preschoolers to pick up the line up/blocking skills and planning they need to win. I  think it might get tedious for equally skilled individuals pitted against each other, but for a learning toddler/preschooler playing against an adult it seems quite thrilling! I'm not sure the rules really allow it, but we have been allowing already "used" goblets to be re-used as long as they are on top, which really gives the kids tons of opportunity to go in a new direction, etc. On the whole I'd say it is a pretty fun game, and helps teach some planning/strategy in a simple way.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


At Sophia's karate class yesterday Maggie showed just how fast she is growing up. (I can hardly stand it!) She (Maggie) was sitting in the classroom doorway watching happily. After a few minutes she turned around and her face did that slow crumple that comes before tears, and she came over and buried her face in my leg. I kept asking her what was wrong, could I do anything for her? But she would just sob quietly, unable to answer. Finally she wailed "nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrse, nuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrse" clearly grasping for one of her few babyhood comforts. I began to wonder if all the changes lately have been too much, pottying, new baby, less napping, she has begun rapidly expanding her vocabulary as well, and obviously gets less mommy time, sooooo? 

It finally occurred to me (slow mama, get with it already!) to ask if she was sad because she could not go do the karate class with Sophia. (duh.) Little nod, gasp, pause crying, "do you want me to ask the teacher if you can join in?" bigger nod. crap. Sophia's ballet teacher is very cool about letting younger siblings join in as they please, so Maggie often participates in that class and gets a huge kick out of it. I explain to Maggie that this karate school is only for four year olds. more tears. But wait! How about if we find a class for you to do, one that is not just for Sophia? Little grin, ok. It must be pretty crappy having your bestest closest friend who you do EVERYTHING with every second of every day do all sorts of fun activities that you can only sometimes participate in. So we have agreed to find swimming lessons that she can do in the evenings with daddy this summer, and she can start wearing her own ballet leotard on ballet class days (like a big girl) and we will see what else I cam organize. 

My little big girl wants to keep up with my medium big girl so much, I am going to have to find special things to do with her so she doesn't feel too babied, or pushed too hard to grow up. 

As we were getting into the car after class Sophia was trying to cheer Maggie up and said "mom, mom, how about this, how about if I just stop doing classes so she doesn't have to worry about it?". Seriously, she offered to give up hockey and ballet (this is the girl who puts on her ballet clothes and "teaches" Maggie almost daily, complete with french terms "Maggie, this is how you ____," etc...) because her little sister can't quite keep up. 

Why can't all these activities be montessori styled and allow  younger siblings to be guided by the older kids? Why? I am sure hockey is only for 3 and ups, what are we going to do next fall? Maggie asked to skate all the time last season, but didn't seem too upset when we told her she had to wait until she got bigger.

Apparently Maggie is bigger now!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easter Craft...

Am posting this a bit late to be of any use to egg dyers this year, but in 2011 if you happen to realize that cheap box of egg dyes you grabbed at the store was made in China and seem particularly worrisome ("do not ingest"  & "may stain skin and clothing" & "age 8 and up"  warnings, and markedly NO sign of a "non-toxic, food safe, etc, etc..." statement) and you decide at the last moment not to risk your toddlers skin & clothes & health (as well as who knows what kind of mess to deal with in the aftermath, with a week old infant btw... oh wait, you might not have those exact variables, but I digress.) and grab your bag of food dyes that you keep handy in the kitchen for coloring playdough and wool yarn, and consider that they should probably work on eggs if you add a bit of vinegar to the hot water in ramekins just deep enough for a single egg, than have I got a fun idea for YOU!

It occurred to me that if we used red, yellow and blue dyes we would have a great opportunity to let the girls play around with color mixing. We dipped paper towels in each color for them to rub over the already dipped egg so they could see what colors appeared in each area. I have to say, I think re-dipping the egg in a secondary color would be much better, as the towel kind of rubbed off the initial layer of dye, but feel free to try whatever you method you prefer. Also, powdered food color ended up giving a not ver uniform dye, and in fact collected on the bottom of the ramekins (yellow and red were powder, blue was paste) and kind of speckled the eggs darker where it touched, which I kind of liked, but keep it in mind of you want a very smooth uniform color. 

So, after dyeing all the hard boiled eggs daddy could come up with, there was still most of a ramekin of dye of each color, and not wanting to waste it, I of course suggested that each of the girls dye there own mini hank of wool yarn with which I would knit them a hat or other small accessory. I labeled a gallon ziplock for each of them, placed wool inside with a splash of vinegar and hot water and squished it all around and left it to soak while we ate lunch. Once yarn was thoroughly soaked daddy rung it out (daddy was very involved in all crafts and games, and basically everything that the girls have been up to in the past couple of weeks because, you know, baby boys like to nurse all the time, and generally make it difficult for mommy to do much of anything with big sisters. sigh. ) and put the bags on the table for the girls to drizzle the leftover dye into, but then, of course, we decided, it would really be more precise and personal if the yarn was set in a pyrex baking dish so that they could place the dye just where they wanted, so we did. (I still think the bags would be good, but it is true that the liquid dye might mix and go all over the bag and generally give a different quality look than hand painting the flat hank of yarn...) 

After spooning or pouring every last drop of dye over the yarn, we realized that mommy may have over estimated how much coverage we would get, and that quite a bit of yarn was still pristine off white, so daddy poured a little extra water into the dishes and the girls squished the yarn in it to distribute the dye that was in the yarn already more evenly. It worked quite well! And the little bits of powdery dye "dregs" at the bottom of the ramekins gave really bright spots among the slightly washed over other areas, and everything got covered (though perhaps not as vibrantly as originally expected). 

We then covered each dish with saran wrap (so it could steam without losing too much moisture) and popped them in the microwave for several minutes. Once cooled the yarn was rinsed and allowed to dry, and has not yet ben wound or knitted with, but will, probably, someday. 

Of course, I thought the colors were very nice and the dyeing came out well, and feel somewhat sentimental about my girls first yarn dying. So when I asked Sophia what she would like me to knit for her with the yarn she dyed, she replied "a pink hat!!" and I was unable to answer for several seconds. Of course. A pink hat, I will just knit that right up for you and over dye the whole thing. }-{ (head desk)

Baby Ben has arrived!

It's been a couple of weeks, (time flies when you are having a lovely babymoon!) but I am finally getting around to syncing up my phone (photos) and computer so I can introduce the "boy" (according to Maggie!)  who will shortly be modeling many new knitted items for newborns. (and hindering school and play for his older sisters I am sure!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Play Dough

We periodically need to "refresh" our play dough supply because the previous batch has become so overrun with dog fur, or the colors have been so mashed into one another that the entire thing is one gob of putty colored muck. Today we decided to choose one color for a change, (pink, of course) to see if we could avoid the dingy camo look for a while. The recipe we used was:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3 tsp cream of tarter
2 tbsp oil (we used apricot oil b/c it is good for the skin and we had some in the cabinet anyway, but olive oil works just as well)
2 cups water

Mix in a pot over moderate heat. You probably should add in the food coloring while the dough is still liquid-ey and easy to mix, but since we sometimes separate it out into smaller batches to color I wait until it is done and then let the kids knead the color (powder or paste) into the dough, which is a fun activity in and of itself. Until everything homogenizes you get a pretty marbled effect. I have used wilton cake icing dye in the past (I keep it handy for dying wool) but this time we used powdered food coloring which I have no idea when or how I aquired. I assume it is ancient and not good for eating (does eating anything that brightly artificial ever seem like a good idea?) but very efficient at coloring paste, dough, wool, etc. I keep kool-aid packets around for wool dying as well, (maybe we post about that one day) and suspect they would work for play dough, but the fruity smell can be a bit overwhelming even with wool that has been rinsed repeatedly so I would use a very very small amount to start.