Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Playground Fun in December

 As much as the weather can be polluted at times (though it seems better than previous years!) and the cold can be COLD, we are blessed to live somewhere where we often still get to play on the playground daily. We may have to wait until the sun comes out and the wind stops blowing (since the playground is in a pretty strong wind tunnel!) but it is possible! And for that I am very grateful.

 At just 13 months, Ellie is climbing the stairs solo. I turn around, and she's already half-way up them, though I still stay close to guard if I can!

 She goes down the slides alone too. It helps me as before I would always climb up and slide down behind her! Now she has the sweetest, proudest look as she lets go and slides down to me on her own!

 She even goes down the very fast and steep tunnel slide on her own, on her tummy. What a huge grin as she comes zooming out! And this momma is grateful to not be squeezing down it holding on to her ankles and bracing myself anymore!

 Ellie definitely takes after Hadassah... Both are climbers.

And quite daring! While I still miss having a back yard, we are blessed to live somewhere that has playground and exercise equipment (that the children use as a playground!) just a few minutes walk from our building.

 Speaking of fun, we even have our own "amusement park" type place running daily. You have to pay for each ride, but for a special family Saturday outing, it was fun! Especially now that Ellie is old enough to really enjoy them. She neighed at the horses when she saw the carousel. :)

  And Dassah absolutely loves this mini car roller coaster.

Guess going by herself makes her feel in control and it certainly whizzes by fast!

 The leaves are turning as Christmas gets closer...

And we are thankful.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fall at the Shanghai Zoo

 It t'was the weekend before Thanksgiving (yes, I'm behind on photos!) and we just needed to get OUT. Girls were fighting colds, which were affecting their moods. I don't know what it is about sickness (okay, maybe I do - feeling awful isn't fun!) but Dassah just gets into very disobedient pattern that are hard to shake when she's sick. Getting out is a way to combat it. And great weather made for a great day to go!

 Autumn leaves are harder to come by in southern climates. Much as I find colorful leaves stunning, I'll take less of them for still having occasional 60 degree days in November and December! ;) But we were pleasantly surprised to find autumn was in full display at the Shanghai Zoo. We both had been feeling the urge to get out in nature, and this satisfied it in some way.

 There was even a perfectly still, amazingly beautiful small lake... Pictures don't do it justice.

 But a little photo editing by my amazing husband comes close. ;)

 We only had a few hours, having made a somewhat late, last-minute decision to go, a 45 minute taxi ride, and a desire to be home by afternoon naps. So we spent almost all of our time at the monkeys. They have so many different types, and are definitely the most fun to watch, especially when there were babies!

 Little Ellie was pretty fascinated!

 We saw feeding time at the Lemurs, set to the music of "Move it" from the movie Madagascar. ;)

 Some indoor exhibits where the girls could stand by the glass were also fun...

 Especially when we met this friendly monkey who was really interested in the girls!

 For some reason, Dassah showed her belly button to the monkey. And for some reason, he was extremely interested. We don't usually encourage her to pull up her shirt in public, but she was giggling so much we kept quiet. ;)

 One thing that is sad is we often see people feeding the animals, which I know is not good for them. But it's a mixed bag of emotions, because it does get the animals very close and active, so is very interesting to watch... At least what these squirrel monkeys were anxiously waiting for was just pieces of fruit.

 When we got tired of moneys, we went to our next favorite spot: the petting zoo. Unlike Hadassah, Ellie was quite content to just watch the goats after feeding them a carrot or two.

 Meanwhile Hadassah would have bought food all day to give them if we'd let her. ;) She loves feeding animals, and people come to think of it! ;)

 A new playground was a fun surprise! I used to wonder why they put playgrounds in zoos - I mean, you pay money to see the animals, not play! But now, as a parent of littles, it totally makes sense.

 We quickly walked by bears, but it was a mistake as it took us farther from the gate and the girls got tired and hungry and cranky. Running through beautiful leaves provided a brief reprieve...

 And some cute photos for this blue-eyed babe!

 Not pictured are the countless tantrums, whining, hitting, and more. This was not Hadassah's best day. We half wondered if we should have gone by the end, but knew things likely would have been worse cooped up inside. Thankfully sickness does pass, our more-often sweet girl is back, and we have memories of fall leaves to stay with us this year. :)

 In other randomness, we now have a big girl who loves playing Monopoly Jr. How did this happen??

And we have a second little girl sporting pigtails now. *happy sigh* They grow so fast!

Friday, December 2, 2016

I is for Ice Cream (of course!)

 I is for an "I" snack - again, it didn't have to be fancy. Cucumber stick put in I and i shapes made her pretty happy. :)

 I is for ice cream stickers (which Dassah decided to put OUTSIDE of the big letter this time - I didn't push it), an ice cream sundae, and inchworm, and ice cream cones. Not much starts with I, so we did a lot with ice cream themed things. But they're fun, so neither of us minded a bit!

I saw an idea for a magnet ice cream sundae creating center online, but instead of buying it (and needing to cut and laminate the download) I did a similar thing out of felt! It took a while to cut it, but it's paid off.

 I first tried it on the Bible study kids, but it didn't last long. The idea I saw online had "recipes" of different sundaes to build, so I spent some time making some up (truth be told, it was relaxing and fun!) and made examples for Dassah to follow.

She's really enjoyed it! First though we spent some time where I would make one and she would copy me exactly. I forget if I told her to, or she just decided to. I think the latter. She was very thorough and exact, so I knew she would enjoy pictures to follow. It's been a good independent play thing to pull out every now and then, as well as something she really enjoys if Ryan or I has time to sit down and do it with her.

 There were ice cream do-a-dots, to work with numbers of dots, which we called "sprinkles."

 She assigned different cones to each member of our family, so we (mostly me - she's still learning!) cut them out to put at each person's place for lunch. :)

 I is for Iceberg Jumping. I brought back our activity from A week's Arctic Icebergs, and once again, she thoroughly enjoyed it. After jumping from iceberg to iceberg for a while, she had fun pretending to fall in the water for me to rescue her. ;)

 I have a few Usborne sticker books that she can do a page in each week, and it's always something she really enjoys. She's getting better tracing the letters too, which is fun to see. She really wants to do it well, though I don't push it.
 I is for Ice Cream scoops on cones. We numbered them 1-8 and had fun piling up different flavors. :) Dassah gets confused when she points and counts things still pretty often, but when she has to put objects down while she counts, she does really well!

 I i for inch worm. This idea (found online) was harder than it seemed. Try laying on your stomach, unable to use your arms, lifting up your back and inching forward. Dassah quickly gave up, while I was determined to figure it out. I think it was a bit beyond her ability because it was even a bit hard for me!

  I is for "If You Remain in Me..." It is a joy to teach my girl the same verse-songs my mother put together and taught me when I learned the alphabet. Though she doesn't usually sing with me, by the end of the week she could sing the entirety of John 15:7-8! Things put to music really do lodge in your brain well. Thanks again, Mom!

 I is for the Inside of things! There were very few books with I in the title, so we pulled out a lot of the "look inside" books by Usborne that I got for various topics/letters. Their "Look Inside the Human Body" one is pretty cool and always fascinating for Hadassah.

 I is for the story of Isaac's birth. Each week I do one Bible story that we first read from the real Bible and then act out. It's good to have her learn to sit for short periods to read things without pictures and in more grown up language, and then help bring them to life!

 Eventually maybe we'll have enough children to act out all the characters in a story, but for now we use stuffed animals. ;) These were the three visitors that came to Abraham and Sarah, who gave them food and drink.

 Sarah listened behind the tent curtain while the visitors told Abraham they would have a son, even at their old age of almost 100 years!

 Sarah LAUGHED when she heard such a thing!

 But God's Word came true and she had a baby named Isaac!

 Dassah almost always wants to act out the stories again, which is fun. :) This time she made the food she brought the guests a little more elaborate! ;)

 I try to involve fun things to make letters with when I can, so this week we made I and i out of tape. She always likes anything with tape. And of course she wanted to trace them to! And do-a-dot pages continue to delight her and give me a few minutes to get a chore done.

 We finished the week babysitting our friends' kids on a Friday night while they went out on a date. It's been such a blessing to trade babysitting and date nights. This time we had their 3 month old baby for the first time, so our hands were full! But it was also a lot of fun. Though there was so much to keep track of, when you're dishing up food for small plates, it isn't too much harder to dish up for four. Fun to think of years ahead. :) And to make it extra special, we made ice cream sundaes for the end of I week, with a tad of ice cream, some nutella (as I didn't have chocolate syrup), nuts, and chocolate chips. A sure fire way to delight children, and Hadassah was pretty excited to have something so fun to end our preschool week!