About me and my blog

sábado, 1 de marzo de 2014

A present for a friend turning 5

This friend's sixth birthday is going to be soon and revising what we made for her last year I've thought I would share again.

This weekend we have been to a very special friend's birthday party. She was turning 5 and I knew she is very into letters, so I wanted to make something letter-related and since I also happen to love stamps I gave foam stamps a try. It doesn't always happen to me that I am very glad with the result when I want to make a birthday present and I often end up giving something different from what I'd planned. However, this time around I was quite happy and I want to show it to you.
I made the stamps using foam pieces that I glued to big bottle caps. The ink pad is just the lid of a container -the kind of container take away food comes in- lined with thick felt. I wanted to add homemade ink as well but it wouldn't have fitted into the box we were going to use. To use this pad with the stamps the only thing you need is a bit of acrylic paint and a pinch of salt. The salt makes the paint a bit more fluid. 

Añadir leyenda

Voilà, that's the way the present looked.

jueves, 27 de febrero de 2014

What to do with old chunky puzzles

I am re-posting a series of posts from my other blog because I have the intention of eliminating it soon.
Here I am sharing an old post about putting chunky puzzles to use after they have been forgotten.

I am always on the lookout for ways to re-use materials and trying to make further use of a chunky puzzles the other day I set up a really simple activity that kept M busy for a while. These puzzles are the kind of material that after a few uses become old hat. I fear that is one of the disadvantage of most non open-ended materials. But well, with a bit of imagination we can reuse them!
For this activity you only need the wooden already mastered puzzle, a tray, and flour, salt or corn-starch. I covered the pieces with starch and presented it next to the base of the puzzle. I added a thick paintbrush as an invitation to uncover the "treasure".
M eagerly took the brush and dug up the pieces. She was quite excited to see what was buried there!

viernes, 21 de febrero de 2014

Best playdough recipe ever -in English and Spanish-

We are beginning to be pretty well-known around here for bringing our homemade play-dough to birthday parties. Since everybody seems to like it, I am sharing it once again.
(En español más abajo)
M concentrated on decorating the play dough with marbles, pipe cleaners and string
Many people ask me how to make play dough so I have decided to share our recipe once again. Since the people who ask me are Spanish and might not read English, I am going to re-share this old post of mine and translate the recipe.

It's been some time now since we first started making our own play dough. At the beginning, about half a year ago, M was not interested at all and the dough would remain in a basket on the shelves until it dried out. However, I decided to give it a go before Halloween and this time it has certainly been a success. We made it for a weekly play date and the other girl enjoyed it very much as well.
Something that has surprised me this time around is that the dough gets better and better the more used it is. M asks to play with it everyday and it has become soft and resilient at the same time that it's kept the cinnamon flavor. We are very happy about the recipe we are using, so I've thought I would share it.

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of oil
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1 cup of boiling water
food coloring for color
essence, spices, or essential oils for flavor

We mix all the ingredients in this order and then knead until the dough looks all right.
We could make some balls to give as play-date favors out of this batch
This recipe contained a little bit of orange food coloring for color and cinnamon to give it a scent that would evoke the season. Another batch we've made had a little red coloring to make it pink and strawberry scent.

Para quienes me han pedido cómo se hace la pastelina que usamos en casa: aquí va la receta:

2 tazas de harina (idealmente, para una pasta fina y maleable, harina de arroz)
1/2 taza de sal
2 cucharadas de aceite
2 cucharadas de cremor tártaro
1 taza de agua hirviendo
colorante alimenticio (opcional)
esencias, especies o aceite esencial (opcional)

También podéis añadir purpurina pero entonces esta masa comestible 100 % deja de serlo. Con comestible me refiero a que los peques que siempre lo prueban pueden probarla sin problema, no a que se puede comer como si de un pastel se tratase...

viernes, 7 de febrero de 2014

The blowing wind and the relentless sun

My 14 month old is about to start walking and this made me feel kind of nostalgic today. It was another early spring two years ago when my -now- 3 year-old girl started walking.
The beginning of spring always feels special to me. It brings back the memory of the cool touch of the mist on bare arms on early mornings linked to a foreboding feeling that the sun would shine all day. And indeed it shined. The smell of dew on the fresh grass of March and the sight of the first almond trees in bloom.
We saw the first almond tree blossoms yesterday afternoon.
Spring strikes February... early, isn't it? And still, I dream. The first child delighted in her very first steps and I was way over the moon, entering a new, precious stage when I got pregnant again.
Two springs afterwards the second child is going to start walking any second and I feel the passing of time as change yet persistence. The blowing wind and the relentless sun.

domingo, 2 de febrero de 2014

Our week: quiet, joy, and sickness

We finally seem to have found a comfortable rhythm that works for us most of the days. Our days open up relaxedly with time for breakfast and activities, without having to rush, get dressed or stressed. I really feel much more at ease than when we used to have to get ready for school. We cook or bake our own breakfast, which feels tasteful and healthy.
Then, M usually chooses to check on the invitations I leave on the table, like this one: stencils. She works there for a little while and then usually asks to work with paint, clay or the like in the kitchen (aka area for messy work).
She has also chosen to work with the moveable alphabet (an uppercase wooden set that I found at a supermarket for a very good price and had my mother paint) as of late and she kind of pretends to write long words such as Papageno (in the picture). 

She finds special joy in music and has already spent several months asking to listen to Prokoviev's Peter and the Wolf and Mozart's The magic Flute over and over. She talks endlessly about Papageno and the Queen of the Night. Some months ago it was Peter and his grandpa. And this makes me think I have to post some of the music activities we have displayed in our music room. So much to do//post about// and so little done... I am slower than a sloth.

The wee one is really into practical life and loves helping in the kitchen, which often implies working at the counter. His self-pride when helping there is something beautiful to watch.

He came down with something on Thursday and has been rather sick. Just a short while after I took this shot, he started throwing up and I could do little to comfort him. After three nights and two days nursing kind of non-stop, he seems to be recovering and I am exhausted!
After lunch they usually have a nap and in the afternoon, before daddy comes home and I rush to my classes or book clubs we often visit or welcome friends or do something around the garden/playroom in the garage. We are setting up a light-table // shadow play area. I will show you around some time, just give me time, as you can easily see I am the worst photographer ever...
Hope you have a great week!!

domingo, 26 de enero de 2014

On kisses and other displays of affection

You can imagine how delighted I was this week when my 13-month-old son kissed me for the first time. It was totally unexpected and spontaneously and at the beginning it took me aback. His sister might have been past 2,5 years when she learnt to kiss. I first thought it a coincidence but after three clear attempts at putting his lips on my cheek and making a little noise it was clear to me. In the previous weeks he had been doing some biting instead. I wonder now whether he was practicing. How sweet this little dude is!!
We like snuggling up and are all sort of loving but I clearly see differences between my children in this sense. Marina is pretty much her own and definitely introverted. She often refuses to be kissed, has very seldom kissed anyone but her parents, and we totally respect that. The fact that we don't encourage (let alone force) our children to kiss anyone, not even relatives, might be a bit of a contrast when we meet relatives who do, which happens once or twice a year. Someone may think we are raising unfriendly, unsociable children but I really believe it is a way to show them to trust themselves, their sense of safety and comfort. This is very important to me.
Marina's displays of affection tend to be shy so I had a secret feeling of joy the other day when matter-of-fact and out of the blue she declared "I like Cristina Coll, Irene (both friends of mine), you and Mazda (invented character) very much".

lunes, 13 de enero de 2014

An update and a dilemma

This post is a kind of wink at Melissa from Vibrant Wanderings. Thanks Melissa for making me want to post a little update as a response to your Moments post.
What are we up to?
We seem to be entering a new era where both kids play lots together and both concentrate on similar practical activities. However, there are many other activities that are not prepared for the littlest, mainly language and sensorial things. Despite his capacity for concentration, he is often attracted to what the eldest is doing and leaves his aged-appropriate material to see and touch(!!!) what his sister is into.
I would love to hear from people with experience in coping with a toddler and a pre-schooler sharing the same space.
For the moment being, a high-chair which only Marina (my pre-schooler) can climb onto and a large table with her materials is the only way we have found to prevent the youngest from touching or knocking her materials.
Amadís is already 13'5 months and a good-natured boy. He is about to start walking any moment and is very into animal models, opening-closing, imbucare activities, stacking, and playing with his sister. He is using spoon and fork for his meals as of late, although he prefers to use the hand most of the time, or to be fed... oh lazy kid. He is a master of repetition and his sister is his dearest model. His vocabulary and expression in general widens a bit everyday. Most of his words are composed by the syllable "ta". He uses "ta" for "there you are" as well as for "give it to me"; "tata" for poop and pee, "teta" for boob.
Marina's main interest as of late is in Montessori activities, which fills me with joy.... At last! She wants to work with the pink tower and the cylinder blocks several times a day, and asks for other materials we don't have currently displayed. Today she brought the Movable alphabet to me and said she wanted to use it. And there she's been inventing words and "writing" them. She is also big into painting and drawing. She was given a set of bright solid tempera markers for her third birthday on the 22nd of December and midway through the Christmas break she had already used them up. I am amazed at the array of activities that keep her engaged.
 The fact that she finds so much to do though our home has brought up a family debate. We, the three of us, were going to Marina's school everyday during the first trimester. This was exhausting and although we were doing all right I felt I really needed a break. And there came the break and the time to ponder and reflect, and to let the feelings find their way. At the end of the break I didn't feel like going back to school and neither did Marina. I've really felt in my bones the joy of preparing a Montessori environment and organizing/looking for materials to match my children's current interests. I am thriving on it! And hence the dilemma: do we go back to school something like twice a week, or should we stick to our Montessori home-schooling?