Saturday, March 27, 2010

Back to Basics

I originally started this blog to talk about being a mom who leans toward Being Green.  Recently, it has been more about being a mom working with her daughter.  That won't change, but I have decided that once a week, I will try and discuss one green topic.  

Earth Hour

So as I sat in my dark house this evening thinking about Earth Hour, and the impact that this one hour can make on those who participate, I decided that it was time for my blog to get back to it's green roots.

For those of you who are not aware of Earth Hour be sure to check out the link above, but for a brief explanation... At 8:30 on March 27th people pledged to turn off all non-essential lights in their homes.  Some towns made citywide events for people to participate in during the hour, and some people arranged events to help people enjoy the hour of non-electronic bliss.  

Now I admit, I ended up using Kindle on my iPhone, as I had not really prepped for this time period, especially since Jolly Green Daddy was at the fire department and I was left to myself.  However, I thought that the amount of energy used my iPhone during this time was small enough that I would be better off using it in the dark than turning on any of my other electronic distractions. 

During the hour of darkness in my home, I looked out my windows in my backyard and realized that every house surrounding me had their lights on.  I thought I would go stand in the driveway and check the rest of the houses on the block.  I could not find one other house in my view that had their lights turned off.  (I will say that my lights by my garage were on, but they are on light sensitivity sensors, and are not easy to turn on and off).  I was definitely bummed that all the street lights were still on in my supposedly green town.

When I mentioned something to JGD (who is really not that green, but puts up with my tendencies), his comment was that it was not well publicized.  I gave this some thought, as I had seen it several times on Facebook, and it realized that it depends on where you look.  I am a fan of many different green businesses and as a result they all mentioned Earth Hour and I knew about it.  I suppose if you have no interest in the environment you wouldn't know about Earth Hour, but then again, would you care?

This made me sad to realize that I like in a neighborhood, where so few people care about the environment that they had no idea that there was a movement for everyone to turn off their lights for an hour at 8:30 tonight.  

I guess my question for myself now is... what do I do now?

Tot School - Week 6

Tot School
Sprout is 20 months old

This week our theme is Passover.  This holiday has become my favorite and I was looking forward to sharing it with Sprout.  What I forgot was all the preparation that goes into getting ready for the holiday, even when you don't have it at home.  We had all of our last minute errands to run to pick up the things we need for our trip to the beach.  Not to mention the search for Kosher for Passover snacks.

Enough excuses... what did we do this week?

Tot Trays
This week's Tot Trays were
Here is Sprout sorting the pom poms by color. I used clothespins with poms glued on to help her sort.  I spent a lot of time helping to guide her with this activity, and it will take some guidance as we continue to master this skill.

I thought that this would be a good week to teach Sprout how to use watercolor paints this week.  I found a variety of printables for Sprout to use and thought that it would be a good time to try something other than dot markers and crayons.

I apologize I don't have any pictures of Sprout doing the Passover matching games, but if you go to my Tot Packs page you can find the activities we did.  I will say that I need to make a harder shadow matching.  As soon as Sprout saw this, she took all the pieces off and then put them all right back in their correct places.  She has spent the rest of the week trying/pretending to eat the Z'roah (shank bone), which resemble a chicken leg.

We started with traditional watercolor paints.
Sprout enjoyed this, but it did seem a little tough for her to understand that she had to get the brush wet and then put it in the paint and then paint.  It's a lot of steps at this point, and she enjoyed painting the paint cups more than the paper.  This led me to get out the dried markers and I showed her how to use those to watercolor with markers.  This was great for her.

Our main project this week was to make a "Kos Eliahu" (cup for Elijah) to give to Sprout's Aunt and Uncle who host our Seder.  I always send flowers to thank them, but wanted to do something from us.  This was quite the process for me, as I tried to figure out how best to make this cup.  I knew what I wanted, but wasn't sure how to get there.

My first problem to solve was what to use for the base of our cup.  My first thought was to take one of Sprout's old containers from her drinkable yogurt and a plastic cup to make the cup.  

Then while looking for things to keep Sprout occupied during our family seder, we found an acrylic wine goblet that was really quite affordable.  After finding that, there was no way I could pass it up to use my makeshift cup as the base for this gift.  

To start our project, we ripped tissue paper into small pieces to glue onto our cup to get the stained glass effect.

We then used watered down glue to add the paper to the cup.  Sprout enjoyed for this a little while, but after a bit she got sticky and didn't really want anymore to do with our project.  I let the project dry to that point.  And then let Sprout add some more paper with a glue stick.  Honestly, Sprout still wasn't all that excited about it, but I got her to add a few more pieces.  And to be honest, I added a couple of my own.

I also took a glue gun and glued some ribbon around the base of the cup.

Our stART project his week went with Naomi Howland's The Matzah Man: A Passover Story.  We made matzah.  Although, it didn't come out, as I would have hoped it was a great experience for both of us, and I'm looking forward to trying it again.

Tot Pack

We didn't use a full Tot Pack this week.  I made a couple pieces of one to use with Sprout.  These would be the matching games we did for our Tot Trays.  Go to my Tot Packs page to find more.

Practical Play

This week we decided to turn Sprout's car seat around.  We kept her rear facing because I know that it is safer for her to be rear facing for as long as possible.  Click this link to read the American Academy of Pediatrics thoughts on this.  Also, Sprout was not heavy enough for us to change the seat around until a couple months ago.  We weren't planning to turn her  seat around, but she has been showing a lot of interest in being forward facing, so we thought it was time.  She seems pretty happy about it.

Sprout thought she would help us put our pots and pans away.  Actually, we were quite impressed when she pulled out a couple pots and lids and matched the successfully.  

Sprout also thought she would try to work on her ability to fit into small spaces.  She climbed into a plastic container.  (We were right there the whole time.)

Then thought she would go for a ride in her stroller.  (Sorry that the second picture is a little blurry. The camera focused on her knee instead of her face, and this was all I was able to get before she climbed out.)

My little monkey is also starting to climb up the stairs on her feet instead of her knees.  I don't have any pictures because she will only do this if she is holding someone's hand.  This makes it a bit tough to take a picture.  But I do have a picture of Sprout monkeying around at My Gym.

What we used this week

One of our favorite books this week was Dinosaur on Passover by Diane Levin Rauchwerger.  This is a great book about a dinosaur who comes to visit for Passover and how an overzealous house guest can send things awry, but everyone still had a great time!

Next Week
Next week is Passover and we will be spending the week visiting with family, having seders and avoiding bread products and enjoying the pool and beach.  I will be sure to share the pictures when we get back.

To learn more about Passover go to  To see what other Tots were up to this week go to 1+1+1=1.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

stART - The Matzah Man: A Passover Story

This week our theme is Passover to help get ready for the holiday next week.  The Matzah Man: A Passover Story by Naomi Howland is a great story for children.  It is a Passover version of the Gingerbread Man.  This was a great book and Sprout seemed to enjoy it.  She like the sing song rhythm of the book and the repetition, but I do think it was a little long for her as her attention definitely started to wander as we got to the last couple of characters.  I'm hoping that reading it a couple more times might keep her attention.  She also picked it up to read later.

To go with this book Sprout and I made matzah men (women).  Or I should say we tried to make...  I've never really made matzah before.  I've been to matzah factories with students, but never really did it myself.  Passover on the Net suggests a 1 part water to 3 parts flour mixture.  This is what we used, and the rolled it out by hand.  This Mama used a pasta maker to get her dough thinner.  I think that would have been a great idea, but I don't have one...

After rolling out the matzah dough, we used cookie cutters to make the men and women.  Around this point I started thinking that the dough was probably too thick, but I really couldn't get it any thinner (maybe more water??).

Then sprout was given a fork to poke holes in the men and women.
Then they went into a 500° oven for 5-7 minutes (my guess is 5 minutes would have been perfect if they had been the right thickness).  Sprout thought she would check on them for me.

Here is our final project.  As I said it came out a little too thick.
I did give one to Sprout to try later on, and she wasn't very interested.  I will let you know if this changes.  I will say that it didn't exactly taste like matzah, but that would because it wasn't cooked as crisp as it should have been.
To see what others read and made this week go to A Mommy's Adventure

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I ♥ Faces - Angles

I found this contest on the blog  Faces.  I really love the fact they focus of all of these shots is a face, as I have always loved taking pictures of people and this is a great way to get me back to to taking pictures for fun.

This week's theme is "angles."  I spent some time taking pictures from different positions than those I typically use.  This is a picture of my daughter trying on Daddy's hat.

If you would like to see what other people entered, go to  Faces.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We Did It!

We finished our blankets for Project Linus this week.  Jolly Green Daddy made a No-Sew Fleece blanket.   While I used the crocheting skills I learned in high school to make mine.   Even Sprout thought she would help out!

She was a great help as JGD trimmed the ends off his fringed pieces.  (And then we added them to her Sensory Tub for this week.)

So what is JGD doing?

Now this wasn't what we had planned originally.  We were going to knot the fringes, but after a phone call from the Jolly Green Uncle (who was making his own blanket for Project Linus and Disney's Give a Day Get a Disney Day) we decided to cut very tiny slits and tuck the fringes through there.

Here is JGD's final project.

Mine has taken a little longer.  I started on February 14th and just finished it today.  In retrospect, I probably should have picked an easier pattern, especially because I had to double the size of the original blanket, but that's okay.

I love taking pictures, but am not a big fan of being in them, but to get credit for the project, I need to have a picture of me working on the blanket.  Here I am working on my final square!
This is what all of the squares look like piled up.
I needed to lay out all the squares to make sure I had the order right as I sewed everything together.

Here is my final project.

I really want to thank Disney for this project.  As it has made me feel really good, and I know that I want to make more blankets for Project Linus in the future.  I also think that I will try to make some blankets for  I just need to figure out how I want to do it.  I would love to make them by request, but I'm not sure how long they will take me to finish, and how that fits into the real world for buyers.  I would love to hear your thoughts!  

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tot School - Week 5

Tot School

Sprout is 20 Months

This week's theme was "All About Me."  This theme incorporated body parts, family and home/community.  We will be getting together with JGD's family for Passover shortly and want to make sure that Sprout is well acquainted with the family members she doesn't see as regularly.

Sprout and I are finally getting rid of our colds and getting back to normal. 

Tot Trays
This week's Tot Trays were 
  • House Shape "Pattern" Blocks
  • Family Matching
  • Play Dough with people, body parts and house cookie cutters
  • Boo Boo Bear
  • Lacing Beads
  • Transferring
I added velcro to the House Pattern to see if Sprout might be more interested in using this "correctly" with it.  Not so much, but she did enjoy pulling everything off the velcro and walking around the house with the pieces.  

I made a family matching for Sprout using her immediate family.  I made this using half a fold and laminated one set of the pictures on.  Again, this was an experiment to see if this would get Sprout's attention more than a traditional matching game.  She did 3 pics and then was on to something new.

Sprout actually pulled the play dough off the shelf this week, so we played with it for a little while, but it didn't keep her attention for long.  She was definitely interested in the rolling pin and cookie cutters though.  In fact, she really enjoyed piling the cookie cutters on other trays and moving the piles around.

She was not interested in the Boo Boo Bear activity at all, and I don't have any picture of her using the lacing beads because I was too busy trying to show her how to lace the beads to the middle of the string and add more than one bead.  We did a little transferring this week, but Sprout was definitely not as interested this week.  I'll change this one around a bit for next week.


We only did a couple projects this week.  One was very minor, we did a dot paint house.
While doing this project, I thought I would see if Sprout could match the tops to the right markers like she did last time.  This time she was good with getting the tops on, but they weren't the right colors.  We'll keep working on that.

Our other project this week was our stART/Kiddos Create Project.

Tot Packs
I didn't make a full Tot Pack for this week, but I did make a couple activities.  The matching game that was used for a Tot Tray and book of family members.  I made the book to help Sprout start placing names with faces.  Sprout had different ideas.  She loves the books and definitely loves looking at her family members, but every picture (including the dog) was "Daddy."  (She also pointed to a picture of some kids on her shampoo bottle and said "Daddy" so maybe this is associated with pictures of people in general.)

Sensory Activities

Sprout wasn't overly interested in Tot Trays a couple days this week so I searched the house for something to use for a Sensory Bucket.  We used the decorative shredded paper used in gift baskets that I found lying around the house, both from baskets and for them.  We also added some ribbon scraps and some scraps from the blanket JGD is making for Project Linus.  

Sprout enjoyed rolling around in the shredded paper too!
The mess this made, made me really happy that I decided to use something like this which was easier to clean up instead of the rice that I had planned on using.  We'll be saving that one for a while!

Sprout also played with shaving cream this week.  She had done this before when we was younger, but it was like new again this week.  She was very hesitant to begin with, but it didn't take long for her to get into it.  This was always a favorite activity (of mine and my "students") when I taught a 3 year old class., so I'm sure we will be doing this more in the future.

Practical Play
This week Sprout thought she would help me reorganize the pantry.  She actually did this a couple times this week.  I might be able to find everything one of these days!

Sprout also tried on some new clothes this week.  We'll have to work on fit!

And front and back.

JGD hurt his back and was given some exercises to do.  Sprout thought she would help out (Sorry about the glare).

She also thought she would help JGD with his blanket for Project Linus.

We had a really great week this week, and it ended with a visit from one of JGM's closest friends since I was a little older than Sprout.  It was great spending time with a long time friend and Sprout had a great time cuddling up to make a car for Handy Manny's race and read a book or two.  Wish we lived closer!

Next Week
Nest week we will be learning about Passover as we get ready for the holiday to begin the following Monday night.  I can't believe it's here already.  I have several projects in mind, we'll see what we get to!

To see what other Tots were up to this week go to 1+1+1=1.


Search Amazon