Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Spring appears to have finally arrived in our corner of Vermont, just in time for a lovely, low-key vacation wrap up.  Sunshine has two possible effects on me: complete and utter laziness or a compulsion to get out and explore.  This weekend we had a little bit of both.

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I finally found the motivation to get out for a run (see the good effects the warm weather has on me?), and when I came back, all I wanted to do was bask in the sun’s rays.  The kids thought that was the perfect way to spend some quiet time, so first we pulled out a blanket and a basket of books for some independent reading time, and then moved on to “cooler” activities.
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A bowl full of water that they get to refill with the hose, some paint brushes and a dry deck as their canvas.  Instant art with no clean up!  Plus I was still able to supervise in the sunshine.  Ah, glorious spring!

The next morning we had a bit more motivation.  I had run the day before past Dewey’s Pond and by the scene of one of my kids’ muddiest adventure and thought it was a good excuse for the kids and I to get out and explore.  I loved listening to their words and observations, and it was clear that they have learned so much in school about the world around them.  Jax was comparing the ripples the rocks thrown in the pond to “sonic waves” and they both were looking for signs of springs and animals.  It was a slow walk, stopping to look and consider and explore, but it wasn’t about cardio that day.  We were all about being out in the world in the sun.

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One thing I couldn’t help but notice about my little Em was her constant climbing! She climbed every rock and tree, even in her new dress! I think it has a lot to do with her forest classroom where she spends one day per week.  She is definitely not timid about being outside and testing her limits!  I was really proud to see my almost six-year-old blooming.

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Don’t let this guy fool you, either, though.  He had plenty to say and share–he loved looking for birds, and even insisted on calling Papa to figure out what species of bird was all around us.  Of course, Papa knew–red-winged black birds!  They followed us along on our walk.

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That afternoon was spent grilling dinner at Lake Pinneo, spending our first day of the year at the beach.  Even though we knew the water was going to be freezing with snow runoff, I brought bathing suits, just in case.  Good thing I did because the kids couldn’t resist the call of the water, and we made it home just in time for baths and bed to recuperate from a busy week!

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What a weekend!  What a week!  What a summer we will have!

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Simply Busy Sensory Play

I love spring, and I love the rain.  I even went running in the rain yesterday afternoon–how refreshing!  But day 3 of rain with kids who are just starting to savor the pleasure of being outdoors everyday is a bit…mind-numbing.  So I pulled out an old favorite for the first time with Hannah, just to see how it goes: sensory play with beans and dried peas.  Did she love it!

As I look back, the last time I did this we did it outside to minimize the mess (which may be wise) but this time we had no choice but to give it a go on the kitchen floor.  I was hoping for ten uninterrupted minutes of work while I sent out emails, so I brought out a cookie sheet, various plastic containers, a spoon and a few miniature CAT vehicles.  I dumped three bags of beans and peas onto the cookie sheet, gave the spoon to Hannah and told her to have fun.  No helicoptering, no instruction.  Just explore and investigate and experiment!

Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It-2   Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Like I said, I was hoping for ten minutes; well, she played by herself for ten minutes before big sister joined in and then they played together for 23 more!  I sat at the table and supervised from afar because even though Hannah isn’t putting things in her mouth anymore, Emmy was constantly introducing new kitchenware into the equation to extend the fun.  Some things were good–measuring cups! spatulas! rubber brushes! the bottom of a turkey baster!–others were not so good–No, Em, let’s not use the cheese grater. 

Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It Sensory Play @ Rub Some Dirt On It

When they finally looked like they were about to quit, I grabbed them and reminded them it was time to clean up.  While I put away the accessories, they attempted to scoop beans into a plastic container where they will live until the next rainy day.  Then it was a battle over who would sweep, with everyone getting a turn to “help” and Mommy finally finishing the job.

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Painting With Cars To Welcome Spring!

Painting with cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

With all these color choices at her fingertips, it was no surprise what Em decided to paint.

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Little H was a little more abstract and mostly just thrilled to get her hands dirty.

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It Painting with cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Even Mommy made one. I couldn’t resist!

Painting With Cars @ Rub Some Dirt On It

And don’t forget about the added bonus–they get to wash the cars when all the artwork is done, taking this springtime craft to a fabulous new level!  Your house has new art, the mess is cleaned up, and everyone has had a ton of fun.  It’s spring!  Let’s celebrate!

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Coffee Filter Snowflakes & Snowmen

As if we don’t have enough snow around here, the kids wanted to add some more, just for fun!  I didn’t think cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters would be so completely engaging for Jax and Em, but they literally made dozens of them.  So many, in fact, that we sent them along to family with their Valentines!  Spreading Vermont snow near and far!

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The kids had tried to make snowflakes out of paper before, but grew frustrated easily when they had difficulty cutting through folded paper.  With the coffee filters, it was so much easier!  We folded the paper various ways, but three folds seemed to be the perfect size for them to manipulate.

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then I gave them a large bowl for the scraps and some safety scissors and they went to work.  Nicely.  Quietly.  No arguing.  Why don’t I do this every day?

Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It Coffee Filter Snowflakes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Before I knew it, our home was a winter wonderland, inside and out!

And Em had a great idea all on her own.  She turned three coffee filters into a snowman, with a few construction paper accessories to add realism.  I was so proud of her for coming up with a unique project by herself.  She is definitely my little artist.

Coffee Filter Snowman @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Making the most out of our many snowy days!

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Good Clean Fun!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after years of admiring Waldorf education, it’s that sometimes the simplest tasks are the most fulfilling for young kids, especially ones that emulate their parents’ daily routines.  Good clean fun.

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So when we were on the tail end of the sickness that never seemed to end and still weren’t leaving the house, I busted out our awesome washing aprons and let the girls go crazy “washing” dishes (spoons, servingware, measuring cups).  The teamwork was really adorable to see–taking turns rinsing things, holding the washcloth, placing them in the stainer–and it kept them busy for quite a while!

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In fact, we did it again the next day, and Jax and Em washed all of their toy animals that night!  All in all, we literally had hours of fun thanks to the simple joy of everyday things.

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And sisters.  The joy of doing anything with sisters is always immeasurable!

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Button & Pipe Cleaner Caterpillars

This was one of those activities for when Em chooses the absolutely worst moment–when I’m changing a poopy diaper, in the midst of a mountain of laundry, trying to work some culinary magic out of leftovers–to ask me to do a craft.  I always feel badly when I tell her I’m too busy, especially since she’s four and with very little preparation can do the rest herself.  So I set her down a bowl of buttons and a pipe cleaner and asked her to string them.  I turned one end up at a right angle so she wouldn’t keep pushing them all the way off.

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

If I had been helping her with this, I would have discussed things like color, size, and pattern with her.  That wasn’t in the cards for this day, so the only adjustment I made was asking her to put a larger button on the end for a face.

So before you get to your very last button, cut a small piece of pipe cleaner off and twist it into a V shape for antennae.

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

When you add the final button, loop the pipe cleaner back through for a nose, if you will.

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then add some googly eyes and you have a pocket-sized pet!

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Button Caterpillar @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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Q-Tip Art For Everyone

Having all three kids at home has put a bit of a cramp on my arts and crafts style; I assumed Little H was too young to do anything but eat the paint or stuff crayons up her nose, and the big kids are way more interested in playing outside than sitting quietly at the kitchen table.  But after a few rainy days I knew that the kids were tired of doing the same old thing, and I decided to risk getting Little H involved in the name of creativity.  So I pulled out an old standby–painting with Q-tips!

I shouldn’t have worried about Little H, although she did give the paint a taste or two.  She was psyched to be included in the fun!

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The big kids were happy to have some quiet play; they even asked me to trace a design in pencil so they could express the picture they had in mind.  Jax got frustrated quickly because the Q-tips were taking too long to fill in his Tranformers symbol, so he switched to a regular paintbrush, but Em thought a spotted elephant was just the way to go.

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

My littlest Picasso made her first-ever painting (and you’ve got to love her little toes on the table!).  Sometimes a little work to prepare a craft is worth every contemplative and creative moment thereafter.

Q-Tip Art @ Rub Some Dirt On It

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