Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our Big "Backyard"

Do you have a backyard? When people ask me what I miss most about America, having a backyard is top of my list. Not that it's necessarily just a China thing. I know if I lived in an apartment in America I wouldn't have one either. But based on housing costs here and the scarcity of normal-size houses (literally almost everyone lives in an apartment in the city!), it's something I really miss. Just being able to step outside and let the kids play without having to make sure you have keys, shoes, diapers and wipes in case, water, and more if you're going to prevent having to make the long trip back to your building and up the elevator.

But, enough complaining. We have been blessed with many many beautiful places close enough to bike to.

 So on good days, when the weather is nice, we head out to the closest to a backyard we've found here.

We meet Ryan for supper sometimes. There's just something about outside air that makes even PB&J taste great. :)

 And you never know who will stop by, like this policeman one day...

 ...who handed Ellie a balloon! I'm guessing he found it on the ground and decided to give it to someone who would enjoy it! :)

 It was a beautiful day for a bright yellow balloon. :)

 And for a big girl trying new things... I discovered with all of her teeth, Ellie can chew green peppers and even a little lettuce!

 And when the almost-3-year-old finishes first, as she almost always does, she can go and dance in a field instead of being cooped up inside. :)

 While the baby stays and keeps begging for bites of mommy's food. ;)

 The clouds darken, and the sun starts to fade...

 But there's big, open, soft grass for the baby to practice her steps. These were taken the end of September (this post has been sitting in drafts for way too long!) so Ellie was only just starting to walk a few solo steps.

 Yeah... it's hard to get too much of this cuteness!

 It does the soul good to drink in the beauty of the sky. I think that's another reason we like this spot so much... there aren't too many tall buildings, so you can actually see big sky all around!

 Pussy willows are the perfect, natural baby toy...

 Until she starts eating them, of course. ;)

 But tickling her with them distracts her from trying to bite them!

 And there's space. Space to let Hadassah roam without worry. Space to follow after her and fly the baby on the shoulders until they start to ache.

 It always seems like a lot of work to pack up supper and make a picnic of it, but we never regret doing so.

 These memories are too precious to miss.

 One day, Lord willing, we'll be in our own home with our own backyard. Getting out won't be so hard to do. But I have a feeling we'll miss these times when we had to make more effort.

Because when these sights are more rare, they're definitely more greatly appreciated.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

F is for Fishing and Flower Fun

 F is for Fall - so we made cinnamon playdough for a fall scent! We were in need of a new batch of play dough anyway, since play with friends had resulted in gray playdough from the kids all mixing the colors up! I tried letting Ellie play too for the first time, but she was more interested in trying to eat it...

 F is for Fun with numbers! These popsicle stick puzzles have gotten their use. They come out every now and then and Dassah always enjoys them. Numbering them helped in her being able to put them together on her own.

 F is for Fishing! So this free printable came in handy!

 The set up took a while, but I cut apart the fish at night while Ryan stretched and we watched a show. It's relaxing to me to do crafty things at night. :)

 Dassah wasn't as into it as I thought she might be, but I think it was partly due to the fact that the "fishing" pole I made with a magnet, block, shoelace and popsicle stick was a bit tricky to use. I then just put a sticky magnet on the end of a block and she just stamped up the fish, and that was easier. She "caught" fish and if they matched the letters of her name, they went on those mats and if not she "ate" them. ;) It's come back out a few times since and she enjoys it, and it's nice that it can be changed used again for other things. The fish certainly are cute, and the printable is free!

 F is for Frisbee, and something we can do inside with this super light-weight frisbee Ryan got from a work project once. It led to a lot of smiles as we threw it back and forth, and Dassah's throw got better - she went from just throwing it however to actually throwing it like a frisbee!

 F is for...

Five green and speckled frogs (hold up five fingers)

Sat on a speckled log,
Eating the most delicious bugs,

Yum, yum! (rub tummy with other hand)

One jumped into the pool (tuck one finger down)
Where it was nice and cool,
Then there were four green speckled frogs,
Glub, glub!

Four green and speckled frogs…

(Continue until there are no speckled frogs on the log)

 Dassah got a huge kick out of this rhyme and we did it over and over, first with our hands, then acting it out with the couch as the "log." :)

 F is for flexibility, because half-way into our preschool time one morning, Dassah said, "let's have a ballet class!" So, change of plans! I mean, how could I resist that? ;)

 F is for Family Memory - I made this game a while ago, and Dassah is getting better and better about playing memory!

 At the end of each game I had her count her matches. Her counting is really improving, though she still sometimes doesn't count each item, just counts quickly or slowly and points randomly. ;) She is connecting the objects and the counting more and more though!

And I love this picture, because it's real life: those ever present, no matter how often you sweep, crumbs from little loves.

 F is for a Fishy Bean bag! First we filled an old sock of Dassah's with beans...

 Then drew scales and a face (mine could definitely be improved on!) and tied off the end for a tail, and we had a fish to dive into Dassah's net!

 Ellie joined in on the fun too! She got a huge kick out of dropping the fish into the net, and even started saying "blub blub" in connection with the bean bag!

 We also acted out the story of a great big Fish, with Dassah as Jonah, sitting on the couch "boat" with a "storm" blowing around her...

 We threw her overboard, and she got swallowed by a great big tunnel-fish! :)

 F is for Flashlight - she randomly found it and started playing with it. I realized there are a lot of games you could with it for F week, but I was busy when she found it so just let her play however she wanted. :)

 To continue our F is for Fishing, she fished for toys in the bathtub one day while I cleaned the sink and toilet. Gotta love when I can combine play with chores!

 F is for Fall Leaves, so we collected leaves (mostly I did while she played!) and then she chose leaves she wanted for her name collage. A friend was over and he loved doing this too!

 F is for Face! They used e a playdough face mat (from this collection). Dassah still isn't huge into playdough (I made most of her face) but her friend enjoyed it! Dassah mostly just likes to make shapes and break/cut them up, but that's fine! We keep trying different activities, though, just to see. :)

 F is for Fire Fighter - this free printable Dassah really enjoyed, as she enjoys telling stories. :) We told it a few times: a house on fire, sprayed with water (blue playdough) and the fire fighters working hard. :)

 F is for Frisbee Toss - masking tape lines on the floor gave her direction to throw too and she developed pretty good aim! She and her friend enjoyed taking turns throwing it for a while. :)

 F is for Faces - I called out a variety of faces (funny, silly, confused, surprised, etc.) and the kids made them...

 The goal was to make them for Ellie to make her laugh, and I'd say it worked! It also got everyone else laughing in the process!

 F is for Fishbowl, Frog, Flower fingerprints, Feathers on F, and a Fish sticker collage...

 This was one of my favorite activities (printable here) - Dassah enjoys fingerprints in paint and counting as we did it!

 I think this was my favorite heart animal craft so far. And yes, I admit, I think I do this mostly for myself... She likes helping glue the pieces I cut out beforehand together, but it's not really a normal 3-year old craft, since I make sure it looks right. ;) But she enjoys pointing out to others what she "made!" ;)

 F is for F wiki stick pages, and fun along the way! :)

 F is for Father - we talked about Fathers (what they do, how to bless them) as our "talking topic" that week, and also did this nursery rhyme about God the Father. I was finally getting around to printing the set while we did it, so Dassah was curious and we ended up doing them all. They're fun!

F is for FROZEN paint! To be honest, I expected this one to go like most painting exercises for Dassah... lasts a minute or two, and then she's done. But freezing paint in an ice cube tray turned out to be super fun for her! It was fun to swirl around...

And fun to make hand prints with when it melted all over your hand...

And deliriously fun when you had all the cubes and kept squishing them between your hands!

She giggled and giggled and giggled as she made a huge colorful mess. I even caught some on video to remember that giggle. Childhood goes by so fast. And she did amazingly well when it was time to clean up. "Hands in the air!" is a phrase that has saved us many times!

F is for fox (she's getting better tracing the letters on these coloring sheets!) and fireworks. Anything that involves glue and shaking glitter is a huge hit for Dassah. It turns out really pretty too!

F is for more fishing - with pipe cleaners this time!

It was pretty hard for Dassah to get the hang of though. May be a fine motor skill to work on. ;) But she wasn't really in the mood to try and persevere, so I didn't push it. She did like to pretend to eat the ones she caught though! ;)

Which gave me the idea to try it at snack time with goldfish crackers paperclipped or twisted on. Then she had motivation and a lot more fun. :) And putting the fish in a smaller area (the glass instead of a bucket) helped her as well.

F is for Fun and we definitely had that over this week!