Friday, December 30, 2011

Pete and Repete

Miss Mega is 1 year and 4 months old
Zilla is 4 years old
Pete and Repeat went out in a boat.
Pete fell in, so who was left?

Ok, so that works better if you hear it than if you see it written...

My kids are Pete and Repete!  Whatever one does the other one must do also.
 Daddy on the computer... Mega on the "computer"...

Mommy pushes one kid in the stroller while wearing another... Mega pushes one kid in the stroller while wearing another...

Ok, so these are cute pictures and some of the cute copying moments.  We've had a number of not-so-cute ones too.
 - Zilla going to the bathroom, Mega ready to hand him the toilet paper and help him wipe his butt
 - Both of them sitting on the same chair to eat supper, sharing utensils, bowls and cups
 - Both screaming because one received the snack before the other (literally only seconds before!!!)
 - One gets out scissors and pencils when told not to so the other one gets them out too
 - Zilla wanting to play with Mega's baby toys
 - If one climbs up something the other one is no doubt on the way over to climb up too

While I love that they get along there are days that I wish they would put their energy to better use!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big Room, Little Space

One thing I have seen a lot of during this Advent and Christmas season is Mega and Zilla finding small places to hang out it.  They love to squeeze behind a chair, under the pews at church or even just perch themselves on the toddler activity table.

I always wonder why they like small spaces so much, especially in a clean room where they can stretch out!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fresh Fruit

Miss Mega is 1 yr. and 4 mo. old

I love that the kids consider fresh fruit to be an important part of their breakfast!
Miss Mega starts her day with 4 signs usually: berry, grape, banana and milk.  I give her a cup of mixes fruits and a banana to start her meal but if I don't eat my cereal quick enough she will have her hands in my bowl trying to pick the fruit topping my cereal! What a messy way to start the day...

Friday, December 9, 2011

All Smiles

Last week Zilla was sick so we haven't been doing much, at least not much that is planned. The kids have found some interesting ways to entertain themselves.  

 They each have a "baby" (their dogs) so obviously a baby needs a stroller!

And this idea... one of the story books Zilla reads pictures kids with bags on their heads so when he came across some bags he figured it would be fun to give the bag thing a try.

Miss Mega was ok as long as she could see!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Caps in Holes

Miss Mega is 1 year and 4 months old

Miss Mega has rediscovered an activity which kept her very busy a few month ago.  This is a can with one round hole and one rectangular hole cut in the lid.  She places pop bottle caps in the holes either the flat/round way or the side/rectangular way.  While she still doesn't have the strength to push the lid back on she has figured out how to balance it just right so she can do the activity independently.
I had set this in the sensory table while cleaning and the pulled up a chair and got to work.  Using the table this way has helped to keep the caps from escaping.  It also gives her the feeling of working at a table, which she apparently prefers to do when her big brother is doing table work.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seek & Play Puzzle

Zilla is 4 years old
Miss Mega is 1 yr. 4 mo. old
For his birthday Zilla received the Seek & Play Puzzle: Huckle's House.  

Since he really enjoys the Richard Scarry books and learning videos (DVDs) that we have I thought this would be a real treat for him.  We saved the "first play" for a time when Mega was napping and Daddy was home.  He waited a month but it was worth it.  
The thing I like the most is that this is more than just a kid's puzzle.  The house design with familiar characters is a natural conversation starter.  
The puzzle also comes with question cards which ask you to look for various items.  Emo and I were very impressed with the vocabulary that Zilla can understand.  Of course some things, like lawn mower and attic, which we don't have and he hasn't seen in years, were a little tricky for him to figure out.  Even though he can't ready yet he was able to understand the pictures on the cards enough to ask us to look for various things.  
The paper that the cards are printed on would be fine for older kids but with a toddler wandering about I went ahead and laminated them.  Hopefully they will last until Mega is old enough for the kids to enjoy this puzzle together!

I think he might enjoy the Busytown Seek & Play Puzzle for Christmas!

ママごと Playing Mom

Kids notice everything... even the small things
And they will copy anything!  Miss Mega and Zilla like to pull their kids (the dogs) around in a "stroller".  Often they also have one of their back too.
This is the way we travel home from our Baby Signing Time lesson as the return trip coincides with nap time.  Zilla cane nap for an hour+ in the stroller, Mega naps on my back and I have a fairly quiet train ride home!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Playing Car

Miss Mega is very observant and recently has started copying, in detail, things that other people do.  One of her favorite activities when Zilla is not around is to play "car" int eh kitchen.  Keep in mind that we do not own a car so the number of times a year they ride in one can be easily counted.  It is amazing to me how much they both pick up!
Here is a little video that shows what happened before the picture...

Please note that the crying in this case is just her expressing frustration.  Not every cry a kid makes is a cry for help.  Also, the car steering wheel and sounds come from the Cars book that Grandma and Grandpa gave to Zilla last summer.  The arrangement of the chairs and cart to make the "car" is all kid planned!

Pie Baker

Zilla, 4 years old, loves to lend a hand in the kitchen.  Thanks to the various Practical Life activities he's been doing he is actually pretty aware of how to do the basics.  So, when he asked to make a cherry pie I was willing to go for it - as long as his little sister was napping!
Rolling out the crust is a lot like playing with play dough!

I mixed the filling as my recipe called for ingredients we don't have so I made it up as I went along.

Zilla was very intent on doing this part himself.  He didn't want me to even touch the table! 

In the end we made a great treat together.  While I don't think he is ready to make a pie all on his own, I know that next time I can let him do some of the work while I take care of other things!  
He's already requested to make an apple pie next!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful Hands

We have many things to be thankful for this year, as in years past.  To help us remember life with 4 little hands in the house we made this turkey.  While some days are challenging, we know that this is a special time in the our lives and I feel especially blessed to spend each day with the kids, learning and playing together.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Work Week

Miss Mega is 1 year 3 months old
Zilla is 4 years 1 months old
During this past week our schedule was thrown off by a number of things. On some days the school work (as Zilla calls it) didn't get touched until supper time.  On the one day we didn't do it at all Zilla asked at bedtime if he could do just his cutting activity before going to sleep.  He really felt like something was missing since we didn't have school time that day!

Zilla's math activity - putting the right number of clothes pins on each number from 1-10
Miss Mega enjoy using the clothes pins for an impromptu transfer activity.  Her favorite activity continues to be whatever Zilla is working on at the moment!

 We read The Pumpkin Gospel and a number of other books with fall themes.  To top them off we carved a pumpkin.
We managed to do this project while Mega was napping.  I expected Zilla to be a bit more hands one but he had no wish to ouch the "guts" and help clean out the pumpkin!

 Miss Mega checking out my examples for the leaf rubbing

 Some letter stamping

Life Cycle of a Pumpkin nomenclature cards from Montessoti For Everyone

More pumpkin life cards

 With the cooler weather we can spend more time outside.  Here you see a bike path drawn on with chalk, a soccer game going on and the lacrosse-like practice session...

 A great pip cleaner activity borrowed from a friend.

We made these last week as part of the food theme.  This week we're putting them to good use as the kids take over more of the table setting responsibilities.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tiny and Tinier

Kids love small things. Moms hate having small things all over the place, getting sucked into the vacuum, put into mouths or stepped on. Here is one solution which allows the kids to explore tiny objects yet keeps those objects from wandering around the house.
2 clear, plastic containers (these are recycled food containers) one for small items and another for tiny, are the new homes for all these little things. When I come across a small object I just drop it into a container and forget about it... until the kids need something to engage their minds and hands for a few minutes.
Miss Mega still sometimes puts things in her mouth so I keep a close eye on her.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pencils and Dominos

Miss Mega is 1 year 2 months old
Zilla is 4 years 0 months old

Both kids have recently found new hobbies.  Zilla's came in the form of a birthday gift - a set of dominos.  These are not the playing kind, though you could probably use them for the game.

We learned pretty quickly that this is an activity best done while Mega is napping!

Here is a quick video of the first domino arrangement we made.

Miss Mega's new hobby is putting (unsharpened) pencils through small holes in the lid of a Pringles can.  To make this simple toy use a hole punch to put about 3 holes in the lid of a Pringles can.  If the hole is a bit small for your pencils you can stretch it our by pushing a pen through the hole.

She see is hard at work.  This has been on the activity shelf for nearly a month now and she still spends 15-20 minutes a day with it. This video was taken when she was just starting out, now has figured out how to open and close the lid on her own too.
In this video Mega signs "please" (flat hand making a circle on her chest) as well as "thank you" (flat hand going from her mouth down) as she tries to share with us what she is thinking.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Flat Stanley ぺちゃんこスタンレー

We recently were visited by Flat Stanley!
This is the 3rd or 4th time since I moved to Japan that he has stopped by.  However, this is the first time that Zilla was old enough to read the book and understand the idea.

 If you aren't familiar with the book, it is work checking out from the library.  It is a quick read and for little kids it is a great imagination starter!  Zilla has asked to do his own Flat Stanley (perhaps after the holidays?) and even tried to put his fav. stuffed dog into an envelope to "mail" to visit his Aunt and Uncle's dog in AZ!
On this that this visit really made me realize though is that our lives have become very "normal".  Most days/weeks we only leave the neighborhood for my Baby Signing Time classes.
This time in the letter to the class who sent Stanley to visit I tried to point out some of the things that are the same, and different, in the way we live here as compared to what they probably live like.
When it was time to send him on his way Zilla and Mega were not too pleased.  They really enjoyed having an extra friend around to play with!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Unit On Food

Miss Mega is 1 year 2 months old
Zilla is 4 years 0 months old

As a segway between the growing food topic of the past few weeks and the upcoming pumpkin carving, pie making of this week, we have spent some time talking about food.  We've read books such as the B-Bears "Go out to Eat" and "Forget Their Manners."
Miss Mega enjoyed some cooking time while Zilla napped and Daddy made supper.

Zilla and I worked on his first collage!   We started with making 2 place mats with food pictures on the back.

We had so many pictures left over from the collage that we went large scale and made a poster of healthy foods for the kitchen/dining wall.  Zilla really enjoyed laying things out, cutting pieces to the right size to fill up spaces and especially using glue!
I really had a tough time letting go of the instinct to cover every inch of the paper with pictures.  He kept saying "But I like that white spot..."  If I'm not careful I could be one of those parents who takes over making the kid's science project for school some day!!!

 Here is something I learned/noticed while on vacation this summer:
It is much easier to feed a baby pasta with chopsticks than with a fork!  
I asked for chopsticks, out of habit, while on vacation in the US/Canada.  It wasn't until I saw the waiter's questioning look that I remembered most people don't eat spaghetti with chopsticks...

 As we were studying food we also talked about balancing our meals and eating enough veggies.
And last... a new favorite recipe!
Turkey Noodle Salad
(not sure what to call it... "Clean Out the Fridge" doesn't sound yummy)

1 small zucchini
1 carrot
1 cup of baked turkey cut into 1 cm cubes
2-3 cups of cooked pasta
A handful of cheese which melts easily
Cesar Salad dressing

In a big bowl:
Use peeler to peel carrot and zucchini strips about 3 inches long
Put in turkey and cheese
Boil noodles, drain
Dump hot noodles on top of other things in the bowl and mix
Add in the dressing to taste - since I was making this for the kids I used just a bit and then the adults added more at the table to their own serving

I was very surprised to see how quickly the kids ate this up!  Miss Mega love it.  Even the leftovers are good after being in the fridge for a day.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Celebrating Reformation

This coming Sunday we will be celebrating the Reformation at a joint church service with our sister churches here in Tokyo.  This is one of our favorite services of the year - great hymns, wonderful fellowship and a special chance to hear a different pastor preach (if my husband isn't the preacher that day!)
Since both kids are still pretty little they don't really have a concept of what was reformed and how that impacted the world.  However, they are old enough to know that reforming means changing something.  They also both know parts of the story of Martin Luther.
Katie and Martin dolls with barrel for her escape, Luther's Seal with detachable layers
and a Luther's Small Catechism Quiet Book 
This year, in order to help my kids understand more, I was able to pick up a few cute & useful things from the SuchAsThese Etsy shop. Rachel, who owns the shop, is married to a former missionary, now pastor, friend of ours.  The things she has made are exactly what I was hoping to make/buy to help the Bible be tangible for our kids.  Miss Mega in particular is at a stage when tactile learning (touching things) is key.

In Maria Montessori's book "The Child in the Church" she talks about faith development.  I love that she puts so much emphasis on faith and shares great ideas for getting kids involved in church.  One thing we have done at our house is include the Bible and its stories into our school time each day.  Around Reformation Day each year (Oct. 31st) we expand that to include a bit of church history.
This year the kids are learning about Katie and Luther, that they were a family and lived/worked at the church like we do.  Zilla is picking up on the meaning of Luther's seal (Mega likes to take it apart and put it together again...) as well as using the Small Catechism to learn about key points in the Bible.

Oh, and before I forget... Here is a link to another blog I came across while looking online for ideas.  Maybe in a few years we'll be dressing up to reenact things from the Reformation story too?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Signing Time On Demand サイニング・タイム・オン・デマンド・プレイヤー

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To download your own player and get the free introductory video go to my instructor page and click on the purple "Get A Free Signing Video" button.  
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Miss Mega is 1 year 2 months old
Zilla is 4 years 0 months old

 There is a saying... "If you build it they will come."
With kids you could say: "If you build it they will do."

If you make a way for the kids to reach the sink, if you have aprons, sponges and a water faucet within reach, the kids will be free to do what they want to do.
Kids want to be independent.  Kids want to be helpful.  Many times the adults in their lives limit their potential by not providing an environment in which they can move around freely.
At 1 year old a walking toddler can carry her dishes to the sink.  By 18 months she can do a basic wash/rinse.  From 2 years old on the ability to wash the dishes properly continues to increase.
When we have our morning snack Zilla and Mega are in charge of washing the dishes.  Ok, Zilla does the watching and Mega gives him admiring looks and encourages him with giggles.  At meal times the kids help set and clear the table but due to the small size of our kitchen the washing up is limited to one adult.

Here is another example of being able to help themselves.  A box left out can easily become a car of boat for a morning adventure!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Plants and Other Work

Miss Mega is 1 year 2 months old
Zilla is 4 years 0 months old
For our second study theme in the Year of Learning Lessons with the B-Bears I chose to jump to Grow-it which is actually timed to be read in the spring. We have both a spring and a fall growing season here.  The reading of the book timed perfectly with the fall garden preparations.  Zilla and I even managed to make a trip to the garden shop to pick out a few new plants to grow indoors.  With the radiation issues continuing I have decided to have indoor herbs this year.
After reading Grow-It we tried to grow roots from the top of a daikon and a carrot. 

 The daikon only lasted a couple of weeks but the carrot is still going well a month later.  Soon we will probably more it to a pot with soil.  

 Zilla enjoyed making the picture journal as they grew.  Since he can't write yet I added 2 extra picture places on the back for the 1 week and 2 week updates.
Miss Mega has enjoyed checking on the plants daily.  She now makes a surprised face when she sees them as if they all magically grew over night!

Since we are starting to see pumpkins around town we also read the B-Bears Prize Pumpkin.

Zilla's questions about how plants grow and how seeds work lead us to this book - The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds. Zilla really enjoys the Magic School Bus series because it shares so much detail.

 On the activity shelf Zilla found this math exercise.  It was really too easy for him.  I had been waiting until he had a better grasp of numbers, as the last time he tried it it was too difficult.  My timing was a bit off!

Zilla's newest workbook challenge includes the lowercase letters. He is in a sensitive time for writing right now and it is so much fun to watch!  When his workbook pages are done for the day (minimum 1 letter, limit of 4) he often goes in search of other writing activities such as our names or pointing out/tracing letters around the house.