Friday, April 3, 2020

Spring Scavenger Hunts

Happy Friday!  Hope you've had a nice week.  Our weeks seem to be an emotional roller coaster lately.  Lots of big feelings and taking things a day at a time.  Indiana schools just announced yesterday that school is cancelled for the remainder of the school year and will be moving to do everything online.  We were all sad.  I was hoping life could resume in May for Olive in first grade, but we have to set our eyes to August now.  We're still processing what this learning at home will look like and trying our best to stay positive.

Are your kids out of school for the year??  I really feel for all the families with young kids.  It's so tough to try to resume some school routine and I'M A TRAINED TEACHER.  I spent 6+ years learning the ins and outs of teaching little people and I'm still overwhelmed at the thought of it.  So I'll keep sharing how we're learning and try to be an encouragement to everyone that finds themselves in our same boat.

I have some Spring scavenger hunt ideas to share with you today.  I've been trying to come up with fun things to do with my kids since the weather has been SO NICE this week.  It makes me excited for Spring.  Plus more sunshine, blue skies and warmer temps will be wonderful, too. 

We hopped on our bikes armed with my cell phone several different days this week to go on scavenger hunts.

Neighborhood Landmark Hunt //

Bike or walk around your neighborhood and snap pictures, cross items off a list or just say you've found interesting items around your area.

Take turns being the hunt leader.  My kids loved taking turns choosing our route and being in charge of our adventures.  The face bush is always good for a few laughs.

Spring Flower Scavenger Hunt //

It was so easy, so flexible and so much fun. 

1. Spot as many different Spring flowers as possible from the road.

2. Snap a picture of them.  Kids spotted the flowers and I took the pictures.  Older kids could probably do the picture taking on their own while managing their bikes.

3. Come home and review the varieties of flowers, names, scents, colors, trees vs flowers, etc.

4. Repeat until you've covered your whole neighborhood.

Biking is exhausting and requires leg breaks if we bike too far :)

Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

Our neighborhood coordinated a clover hunt, a rainbow hunt, a teddy bear hunt and now an Easter Egg hunt for kids to do.  People are putting eggs in their windows and landscaping for kids to spot.  We just walk/bike through and look for them.  It's a fun way to get the neighborhood involved.

I Spy Tree Edition

The kids have also been climbing trees and playing I spy from a new vantage point.  They are totally in charge of this game and just have fun spotting different things.

You could also pack a backpack of books and read in a tree when you're done like Olive.

In case the weather isn't great...

ABC Scavenger Hunt
Let your kids cut apart magazines, ads or newspapers to find words that start with every letter of the alphabet.  You could modify this to be a food scavenger hunt, animal scavenger hunt, capital/lower case scavenger hunt etc.  It would be a great way to practice fine motor skills of cutting, gluing and sharing their findings.

Color Scavenger Hunt
Collect items of every color of the rainbow.

Book Scavenger Hunt
Look for book titles for every letter of the alphabet.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ideas for Celebrating Easter At Home

Happy April!  It's a new month.  April is BABY month at our house!!  It looks like Leo will be making his debut next week unless he chooses his own birthday before then.

That's obviously a huge life event, but much of the rest of our life will be the same this month.

Lots of staying home and lots of adjusting our routines.

Our kids have been home for 19 days straight.  And they haven't complained much at all.  We're all happy and healthy and I'm thankful for that.  They seem to be loving all the extra time and our new norm.  It makes me really thankful and is an encouragement to me when I'm feeling down.

We've settled into life at home pretty well, but we're all feeling sad that our Easter plans are mostly cancelled.  We openly talk about being sad or disappointed that things are cancelled.  We don't dwell on it.  Just talk about it being a bummer right now.  They'll be no bunny brunch, Easter Egg hunt at the country club, bunny pictures or Easter church service.  I'm super hopeful that life will be more normal in the coming months, but the uncertainty of everything is stressful.  Right!?!?

I'm trying hard to keep up our traditions and take life one day at a time.  We'll be having an egg hunt at home, Easter baskets with Spring goodies, Easter foods and Easter fun.  We'll adapt some things and just look forward to doing the rest next year.

I have some fun Easter @ Home ideas for you today.  These are all easy to replicate and don't require a ton of supplies.  I hope you can find a new idea or two to do with your family this month.

Easter Egg Carton Meal
Save some of your egg cartons, wash them with warm soapy water and then serve your kids a fun meal in them.  My kids love having all these bite size meals.  I didn't do any fancy shapes - just added Easter candy + their favorite foods and called it an Easter meal.

Easter Egg Weaving or Painting
Olive learned how to do paper weaving in her art class a couple of weeks ago.  She's been a weaving machine ever since.  Cut out an Easter egg shape, cut strips of paper and then let the weaving begin.  If you want it to be more durable, you can glue stick the ends of each paper strip down.

Easter Footprints
We made this bunny art several years ago.  I'd love to do an updated version this year.

Easter Bunny Game
We added this cute game to our collection - Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt.  It's perfect for Spring and reviews colors, counting and it's taking turns.

Easter Duplos/Legos
Build fun Easter scenes

Resurrection Rolls
This treat is a fun way to tell the Easter story to your kids.  You need crescent rolls, marshmallows, cinnamon sugar, butter and a little icing on top.  It's a kid friendly recipe so they can help you in the kitchen.  Recipe here.

A few more things that are on our radar...

Egg Dye Kits
Easter Egg Hunt @ Home
Traditional Easter Meal
Easter Movies & Easter Books - Peter Rabbit and Hop are our favorites.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Setting Nonacademic Goals with Your Kids While They are Home

I keep seeing posts about all the things kids are missing out on right now during these unprecedented times of social distancing.  It makes me sad to think about, but I'm also convinced it doesn't have to be a time of missing out.

Yes, they're missing out on traditional days at school, routines and formal lessons.  But, they are being given the gift of TIME to do different things and set different goals.

I'd encourage parents to help your kids set some goals for themselves that they'll be able to work on outside of school.  Of course you can set academic goals for them during this time, too.  This really is the perfect time to help them try new things, look for new hobbies and master skills they usually don't have time to work on during the school year.

Olive (age 6) has made the comment several times that she's learning new things or has noticed that she's getting better at something that she's been working on.  It's really sweet to see her noting her own progress and milestones outside of school.  I can't help but think that this time will help her to see her free time in a new light.

She's currently working on improving in the following areas:
1. Dribbling a basketball
2. Doing her own hair
3. Taking on some new chores
4. Drawing
5. Swinging independently
6. Making her own bed
7. Helping out in the kitchen
8. Climbing trees
9. Independent Reading and reading out loud keeping her own reading log
10. Trying some new foods
11. Gardening and learning flower names
12. Looking for ways to surprise us and help out around the house

My 4 year old is working on improving in the following areas:
1. Riding his bike longer distances
2. Dribbling a basketball
3. Folding towels
4. Making his bed
5. Offering to help on his own
6. Cleaning up his own messes
7. Writing his name
8. Climbing trees
9. Trying some new foods
10. Learning some new songs
11. Being kind to the cats and becoming friends with them
12. Picking up sticks in the yard

All of these things are things they've mentioned on their own or that they've just kind of gravitated towards after being home for the last 18 days.  It's fun to note their progress and show them how their efforts to practice are paying off.

We are using this time to connect and try out new things.  It's been a fun challenge for us to learn new things together.  The grown ups are learning to work from home, read more, have date nights at home, go on walks, bike rides and get fresh air every day as well as try new recipes and food combinations.

I saw this on social media over the weekend - We are SAFE at home, not STUCK at home right now.  So true!  What things are you working on with your family right now??

Here are a few activities we've done just for fun:

Family bike rides.

Scootering in the driveway.

Helping in the kitchen.

Making Nature Pizza & Nature Soup.
Gather as many different ingredients as possible to make a yummy concoction.  Then share the recipe.

Great for imagination and fine motor practice.  My kids love making Play-Doh food and filling up a mini muffin tray with food.  Check out those burritos, cinnamon rolls, ice cream sandwiches, cookies, etc. 

We're learning flower names, practicing basketball skills and trying all kinds fun climbing.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Happy 4th Birthday Fletcher!

Our sweet Fletcher turned 4 yesterday!

He's been counting down the days until his real birthday all month long.  Remember we celebrated at the beginning of the month with all of our family??  We did it based on convenience at the time, but now I'm so thankful to have gotten the chance to celebrate early with all the current COVID-19 restrictions in place.

We started a birthday countdown and he's been coloring in the boxes in every morning.  He woke up yesterday to presents, requested a day full of all of his favorite things and picked the menu.  He has very little clue that the whole country has hit pause on life and I'm thrilled for that.  He knows that things are germy out and about right now so we are staying home and staying healthy.  He's adjusted easily to this new norm and is pumped to have everyone home to play with.  It's good to be 4!

Our 4 Favorite Things about Fletcher:

1. He's a foodie.  He enjoys eating, baking, grocery shopping and all things food so much.

2. Fletcher is generous with compliments.  He is always telling me my food is the best, I'm the best mom he could ever dream of or that his day was the best day ever.

3. He loves people.  He talks to everyone when we are out and about.  He's very friendly, loving and is so social.  I think he's going to LOVE school in the Fall.

4. Fletcher is really easy going.  He's positive, flexible and is usually just happy to be along for the ride.

1. Fletcher comes up with the sweetest sayings - You're the best Dad I could ever dream of. 

2. He's a hugger!

3. He loves to talk, share his feelings, his loves, his thoughts, what he wants to do and loves to tell us random things.

4. Fletcher has a great imagination - he acts like Superman, becomes a Biker Bird on bike rides, etc.

1. He has funny voices.  My favorite is his O-ba-doe voice.

2. Fletcher is SO silly.

3. My favorite thing to play with him is Barbies.

4. I love to play basketball with him and biker birds.

 Here are the highlights of his birthday yesterday:

Olive wrote Fletcher a monster truck book.  It was so cute!!

He woke up ready to open gifts!

The fire/police station was a big hit.

 A lunch of FOURS for the four year old.

We played outside and rode bikes.

He's mastered showing that he's FOUR.

He got this monster truck arena with kinetic sand.  They had the best time playing with it outside.

This part makes me feel all the feels right now...

Fletcher requested his favorite - cheeseburgers - for his birthday dinner.  He wanted Kevin to grill for him.  He had no clue that hamburger meat has been hard to find in stores and people are going to great lengths to find it.  We have plenty of meal options, plenty to eat, but hamburger, toilet paper and cleaning supplies have been hard to find.  I said several prayers this week that we'd be able to pull off a special birthday at home and that he wouldn't feel like he missed anything.

Kevin did a grocery store run this week and found two packages of hamburger meat!  This was after multiple trips over the last few weeks without finding any.  It was such a sweet reminder to us that God cares about the little things in our lives that are important to us.  Fletcher didn't realize that hamburgers felt like a bit of a luxury right now, but Kevin and I knew that this was a blessing for sure!

Fletcher loved all the birthday festivities.  He requested chocolate cupcakes and we did two different icing flavors for fun - chocolate and Oreo.  Both were delicious!

We are So thankful for this sweet boy!!  I can't wait to see what is in store for him this year.

And I'll wrap up with a throwback to sweet baby Fletcher.  Seems like just yesterday :)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Baby #3: Weeks 33-36

It's time for my monthly pregnancy update!  Things are moving right along.  I'm doing really well and so is Leo.  We're just taking life one day at a time and looking forward to meeting Leo in April.

Week 33: February 24
Baby is the size of a squash

This week I am not sleeping well at all.  I'm getting really hot at night and can't seem to get comfortable.  I sleep best when it's very cold in our room.  Kevin is bundling up and trying not to turn into a popsicle.  The colder it is, the better I sleep.  I'm tired in the afternoons due to not sleeping great, but the show must go on.  We are keeping our usual schedules of playgroups, activities and staying busy.

Baby is moving SO much.  My belly moves like crazy and it makes everyone laugh.  I'm getting lots of comments from strangers about being pregnant, being so close to my due date and asking me questions about the baby.  Most are sweet.  A few are awkward.  My skin is feeling really dry.  I'm feeling very thankful because my heart burn has been pretty much a non-issue and I have hardly any swelling.  Both were bothersome in my other pregnancies.

Olive and Fletcher tagged along to my doctor appointment this week.  They were really good and thought it was fun.  It was the first time Olive had been able to go with me.  She was curious about it so it was fun to get to include her.  She said the ultrasound wasn't nearly as cute as she was expecting and that it was kind of creepy.  She's not wrong!  haha

Week 34: March 2
Baby is the size of a pineapple

I'm feeling tired.  My blood pressure and swelling are both great this tieme around.  No issues with either.  I'm so grateful for my blood pressure being good this time around.  No extra monitoring/appointments required.

Fletcher keeps telling me "Your belly is getting GIANT" and "I really love your GIANT belly!"  

Kevin has started complaining about having some sympathy hunger and being starving 24/7.  I can relate.  More strangers that I encounter keep asking me if I'm due any day.  They get big eyes when I say I'm due in the middle of April.  We got to go on a road trip and visit family this week.  We celebrate a wedding shower and Fletcher's birthday with all of our family. 

Week 35: March 9
Baby is the size of a spaghetti squash

Leo is moving a ton.  Sometimes I feel nauseous with all the movement. I get up often at night to go to bathroom.  He's feeling heavier and lower.  I'm still trying to squeeze in an afternoon nap when I can.  I'm not feeling very hungry this week.  The kids are so excited to meet Leo.  They asked for me to start a baby countdown for them.

Our life got turned upside down this week by all the COVID-19 developments.  Kevin was scheduled to go out of town for 4 days, my parents were scheduled to come up for a visit to help work on projects and life came to a halt.  Within hours of flying out for his trip, Kevin's conference was cancelled.  He had to spend hours on the phone cancelling all the things - rental car, flights, hotels, reservations, etc. in the hopes of recooping some of the money he'd spent.  In retrospect, I'm thankful he got to stay home, but it made for a stressful few days.

My parents still came up and helped us move Olive and Fletcher into a big kid bedroom.  My dad painted the room, emptied it of the furniture and built two new beds with Kevin.  We're all so excited for this new space.  I'm also glad that they have several weeks to get accustomed to sharing a room before baby arrives.  Olive came home from school to the announcement that school is out through May 1.  She's not happy about it and I feel sad that she's missing weeks of learning in first grade.

Due to all the COVID-19 uncertainty, we are making more trips to the store to prepare for staying home for a couple of weeks.  I was already planning to stock up on freezer meals and easy food ideas since I'm having a baby in April, but given the current events, we are stocking up a little ahead of schedule.  Life feels unpredictable and a little scary so I'm finding that doing prep work for meals and snacks to be really comforting.

I had a growth ultrasound this week at the hospital.  I was nervous about going to the hospital given the current virus drama.  I had to be screened when I walked in the door and tried to touch as little as possible.  My ultrasound went really well.  I'm measuring a week ahead.  Leo is estimated to weigh 6lbs 9oz this week and be in the 82nd percentile.  He looks great.  Everything else looks great.  Praying for smooth sailing from now until delivery.

Week 36: March 16
Baby is the size of a bunch of kale
(We haven't been to the store so no kale + kids picture this week)

We are staying home.  All plans are cancelled and we are really self distancing.  We aren't meeting up with friends, playing closely with anyone or running any errands.  We are all healthy and want to stay that way.  Kevin's still having to go into work (although his on campus classes have been cancelled for the remainder of the semester).  He's our designated errand runner.  We are getting outside any chance we can to enjoy some fresh air!

I am back to sleeping great this week!  No time for naps with both kids home.  The weather hasn't been great so we are working hard to find fun things to do inside.  I am in full nesting mode trying hard to get all the projects done.

I'm having some heart burn at night only and baby is breech.  I'm praying he flips head down soon.  My doctor said he still has plenty of time to flip.  I left home once this week to go to my weekly doctor appointment.  I talked over a delivery game plan with my doctor and feel better about the whole process.  She was reassuring me about the process and the current protocols to keep moms and babies healthy at the hospital.  There's so much uncertainty with all the COVID-19 restrictions and ever changing updates.  I try to limit watching the news because much of it is unsettling.

Just a couple more weeks!!