Wednesday, July 21, 2010

First Painting

The last box from Grandma and Grandpa included a little water color painting set. The Little Guy latched onto it right away!
I haven't had the supplies to really do a painting activity before this. It was on my to-do list but memories of the mess that painting created at the preschool kept me from rushing out to get paint!
This wasn't bad though. It is a much more manageable project with 1 kid than with 20!!!
He chose a page from the book and was itching to get started as soon as he understood how to get the dry paints wet.
When we were done we cleaned up together and the Little Guy declaired that the paiting is to be a gift for Daddy. He very proudly handed it over first thing the next morning!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lacing Cards

Thanks to a heat wave we've been spending more time indoors this week than normal. While the Little Guy can manage staying indoors his brain needs extra stimulation to make up for the lack of physical movement.
This is an activity that I was saving for after the baby is born but we needed something new at the end of yesterday so I brought it out a little early.
These cards came in a set with the lacing strings from Trend. I believe they are an older version of the current product that that Trend sells.
I love that the cards are strong cardboard. They won't bend unless mistreated. Also, the strings are plenty long and have ends like shoe laces to prevent fraying and make it easier for little hands to thread through holes.
The Little Guy surprised me when we first got them out by requesting a blue string to go with the red dog. When I asked why he pointed at the cover of the box. Keep in mind this is a new activity for him and he had only seen the box in passing. His memory for detail is becoming pretty impressive!
After "sewing" for a while he then strung together 3 of the animals, also like the cover on the box, and declared them to be a kite. Tonight he asked for the activity again after supper so he could show Daddy how to do the lacing.
I think we have discovered a new favorite activity!

Sunday Morning Music

Sundays have always had their own routine and rythm for me. As a kid it was the Crystal Cathederal's "Hour of Power" while eating breakfast before heading out to church. In college we listened to peppy praise songs while getting ready in the bathroom (my answer to coffee!). With the Little Guy it is the playlist on the computer.
I feel that part of making Sunday feel special and be special is making a routine that from the moment you wake up in the morning helps you to get into a mindset of worship. At our house my husband is usually busy doing his own thing from long before the rest of us wake up so it is up to me to get everyone and everything ready for church.

Rule #1 No TV
May seem strange but I don't even think to turn it on on Sunday mornings anymore. Usually we catch the morning news and weather as the day starts but not on Sundays.

Ok, so #1 is the only rule really but it does make a huge impact on the general mood of the day.
The music for the morning is a playlist that continues to evolve. The main albums that songs are curently pulled from are:
Bridges: Classic Hymns, Modern Worship

I also include the songs we've sang in Sunday School or favorite hymns from the church service. The Little Guy loves the Sunday Morning playlist since he knows all of the music. This past Sunday he had a half hour jam session while I was getting ready before we headed over the church.

Here are some of the songs on our Sunday Morning play list:
Silver and Gold Have I None
ラララ ジョイ ジョイ
What Wondrous Love
Fairest Lord Jesus
Thy Word
Refiner's Fire
I Believe In Jesus
Lord I Lift Your Name On High
King Of Kings
Shine, Jesus, Shine
Amazing Grace / Jesus Loves Me
Come Thou Fount
Dry Bones
Siyahamba - Kum Ba Yah

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baby Practice

As the baby's due date approaches the Little Guy is becoming more involved int eh baby preparations. This week the cloth diapers and newborn clothes came out of the closet. The Little Guy's dog is just the right size to give the newborn things a try!
I wonder if he'll be this helpful after the baby is born...
diapered, dressed, swaddled and ready for some hugs!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pool Play

We have a small kiddie pool and while it is just the right size for a bit of splashing there isn't a whole lot else you can do in it...
or so you might think...
Have you seen these before? They are sponges that come in little capsules that open up after being placed in water. Last time we set up the pool I put a set of them in for the Little Guy. Talk about a lesson in patience! It took more that 5 minutes for the first one to open.
He had a great time watching, fishing around for, and eventually guessing what each creature was.
I'm going to keep an eye out for more of the sponge capsules because they would also make a great bath toy on a rainy day and eventually can be used for printing/stamping and other art projects too!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Flag Cards

I'm really loving having a big 100 yen ($1 store) near by!
This week when we stopped by a book store I saw a pack of flag flashcards for about 2,000 yen and was tempted to get it.
The Little Guy is starting to figure out countries, world, language, etc. I'd love to ride the wave of his interest so I'm keeping an eye out for useful items. I found these on the way home from the big bookstore for 1/20th of the price!
Each pack has the flags of 54 different countries. On the back is the Continent name, country name in common Japanese, the official name in Japanese and then in English. The capital is also listed. While we aren't ready for this much detail yet I have found it interesting to to see what the official names are in Japanese! (think of China v.s. People's Republic of China)

With Zilla I'll choose a Continent, explain that each country has a flag, take a peek at the children's atlas and then use the cards for a matching activity. Depending on his interest level and questions we'll figure out where to go from there.

This just goes to show that good things really don't need to cost much!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Book

We just got a great "new" (to us) book called Sesame Street Sign Language ABC with Linda Bove. You can see a couple of pictures and read about it here!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Diaper Tester

As we prepare for baby # 2 I've had the chance to "improve" on some of the things that we used with the Little Guy. One of the biggest/funnest (diapers - fun??) things to look into has been cloth diapers. It is amazing to see how much the options have improved in just the past 3 years! You can read about cloth diapering in an earlier post here.
One of the biggest improvements has been availability. While many stores in Japan still have the old-fashioned cloth diapers as the only kind sold, there are places online where you can get your hands on the newer styles.
One such site is the Comfy Baby Store.
This is one of the "trial packs" that they offer on the website. For about 10,000 yen ($100) you get 4 diapers and some special detergent. Since I really am interested in seeing options I thought this would be a good way to go. Keep in mind that we already have a basic set of diapers from when the Little Guy was a baby so these are to add on to what we already have.

The set came with 3 newborn size diapers - 1 Fuzzibunz (red), 2 different types of LoveyBums, and a free-size (one size fits most) Blueberry deluxe.
After I placed my order I was asked to give a baby size and color choice (boy / girl) so I asked for small since that is what we'll be using first.
Here is what the inside of the diapers look like. 3 came with inserts to increase absorbency as needed. You can also see the different fastening styles. From what my friends have told me the Velcro is preferred for ease of use but as the babies get bigger they figure out how to "help" with the Velcro making the snaps a better option to guarantee the diaper stays on!
On of my friends pointed out that my son should still fit into the Blueberry one-size diaper. I actually hadn't thought about that. So, when he was in a good mood I had to give it a try!
This is the Blueberry on a 2.5 year old. He weighs about 15.5 kilos (34 lbs.) and yes, the diaper fits! He actually wore it for an entire morning and had no complaints about the size or fit. As you can see there are many snap options and this is the largest setting. We tried the diaper on a stuffed animal too and I think a newborn should also be able to fit without a problem.

So, to sum it all up there are a lot of choices and thankfully more and more of them are becoming available in Japan. I'm leaning towards the one-size diapers as the diapers of choice. While they may cost a little bit extra to start with, they don't need to be replaced as the baby grows into a toddler. Of course you'll have to check back to see if I like them as much after the baby is born!!!

Just something to consider...
If you use even just 5 cloth diapers a day it makes a big impact of the diaper buying budget without creating tons of extra laundry.
Use them as the first five of the day, wash them right away and they should be dry and ready to use again by morning!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mini Music Man

In all honesty I expected the Little Guy to grow up with some reasonable level of musical ability. It is in his DNA. With 2 parents who dabble in music at various levels and growing up in/around the church where praising God with music is a huge part of worship life there really isn't a way not to at least appreciate music.
From the moment he was born (very litterally the moment) he's had music to listen to every step of the way. When choosing the place of birth one of the selling points of the clinic was that they encourage you to bring in special music either on iPod or CD to play while you are there.
At home I've used music for everything from setting to the tone of day (upbeat songs) and night (instrumental guitar) to using little songs for clean-up time and brushing teeth. Kids love music and in our situation the Little Guy usually responds faster to a song as a cue than a spoken request.
In our play space we have a box of instruments. Sometimes I will switch what is in the box but the keyboard, guitar and tamborine are always there. Whenever possible I try to get instruments that have a nice sounds since we will be hearing a lot of them!
When he was under a year old I would occasionally direct his attention to the box and then let him explore freely. As he got bigger we started to play together as we would sing favorite songs. Since turning two he has become the instigator of the musical sessions - sometimes with an adult and sometimes on his own.
On this day he got out the box and set up a musical circle so all of the instruments were within arm's reach. For about an hour he played and sang. The first half hour or so was like to videos below. After that he started asking me to join in and requesting various songs.
It is amazing to me how particular he already is with his musical tastes. He has a style, tempo and even particilar verses in mind before we start!

The keyboard is playing songs and he is drumming along. In the 2nd video he tries to sign and sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" but the keyboard got ahead of him but he caught up in the end.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

KID-O-KID キドキド

There is a place near our house called KID-O-KID キドキド. Ok, so it isn't exactly near, it's near the next train station, but comparatively that is close!
Ball pit
Train set - with dress-up are in the background
A marble rolling build-it-yourself thingy area
Tubes that roll
Mr. Handy Manny wanna-be

As you can see, we had fun.
The enterance charge was a bit much for my liking but if you got the day pass it would be a nice place to go when the weather is bad or to celebrate something special. Might also work as a place to play when Daddy is out of town and the blues have settled over the house.

The other thing I like is that any age kid is welcome so siblings or cousins can play together. However, I bet this place is super crowded on holidays and weekends!!!