Thursday, February 27, 2014

Preschool Flashback

We recently got to have a nice visit with our old preschool teacher from Westmoreland Children's Center, Miss Kasia, over at Zara's house.  Joseph had Miss Kasia for both the 3 day "Bears" class and the 5 day "Leopards."  Here they are last week, followed by a picture from the first day they met at preschool orientation.  What memories!

Joseph and Ethan met Zara that day too, and have been the best of friends ever since.  So amazing to watch them grow up and change so much over time!

Now Flash forward to this summer, and lucky Joe Joe will be getting to see tons of Miss Kasia since he'll be going to the school age camp at WCC.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Double Stuffed

Continuing on with my plan to make a cookie of the month, for February I chose a recipe from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion for "faux-reo's," or fake Oreo's.  The recipe for the vanilla creme filling alone is worth its weight in gold, and I made sure to use quite a generous amount of filling in my version.

The online recipe is slightly different from the one in the book, which omits the espresso powder and calls for rolling the dough and using a 2 1/4" round cookie cutter.  These things were huge, but I haven't heard any complaints from anyone I gave them to.

Everyone has their own way of eating an Oreo.  I wasn't sure what Joseph would do, but he was a natural at twisting the halves apart to have one unadulterated chocolate cookie and direct access to the filling.  To each his own!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Keeper of Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley has had quite an adventure since we brought him to New York.  After taking our own photos with him over Thanksgiving, our instructions were to pack him up and send him off to explore the world, reporting back to his teacher with pictures from time to time.  Every time a photo came back to his teacher, we would print it out and hang it on a map in the classroom (which was a free download from Mr. Printables!) so the kids would learn a little bit about geography.

Joseph wrote a letter that says "Dear Keeper of Flat Stanley.  Thank you for traveling with Flat Stanley.  I have 2 cats.  I've been reading Flat Stanley [books].  I want you to keep him safe.  Love, Joseph."  We sent Stanley off to my best friend, Lance, who lives just outside of San Francisco, since none of the class Stanleys had been to the west coast.

Uncle Lance kindly showed Stanley the Golden Gate Bridge, and then carefully orchestrated a tour with his family that included a visit with his niece, Tasha, in New Mexico,

then a flight up to Seattle, Washington,

and finally leaving U.S. soil for:

no, not the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia (although that would have been so incredibly cool!!), but Whistler Olympic Park in Canada.  And with that, Flat Stanley gets to take a break, since the 1st graders are starting a lesson plan on the Aztecs, and the map on the bulletin board needs to make way for new artwork.  Unless anyone you know is going to Mexico, Stanley would love to tag along!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now

Nope, Joseph doesn't need glasses.  Eyeballs are healthy and he has awesome visual acuity.  Just making sure he can see what he's trying so hard to read.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

100 Days

The 100th day of school celebration finally happened last week, just before another snow storm hit us and the kids were overjoyed with an unexpected 5 day weekend.  They each had to make a 100 item poster - there's Joseph's googly eyeballs project on the bottom left.

Each classroom hosted a craft station that all the other classes rotated through.  Ours made noisemakers, having each student count out 100 small items from the table (beans, pebbles, Cheerios, etc) into a folded paper plate that was stapled together.  They then got to decorate them and play along with some music before moving on to the next class.

As lead room parent, I rose to the challenge of stapling together all the paper plates on my own.  Ten or 20 at a time, here and there over the prior weekend, until all 150 were done.  Imagine my confusion when there was an entire bag left over, and my disappointment when the teacher reread her email to me asking me for 114, not 144 as I had misread.

After all the craft stations were done, it was treat time.  100 days calls for 100 donuts!

Of course my favorite part in all of this is Joseph's 100 day reflection.

It says "Dear Daddy and Papa, I am most proud of writing.  I have been working hard at reading.  I still work on math.  A goal for myself is handwriting."  My heart just about completely melts reading that.  It doesn't come easily for him and he really does work so hard.  I couldn't be any prouder of him.  Especially when he draws his own lines to write on in the space he is supposed to draw a picture, ignoring the lines that are right below it.  He's an independent thinker, that one.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lego My Valentine

I am a huge fan of personalized paper products and typically order Valentine cards from one of my favorite stationary websites.  But every once in a while you can't find exactly what you're looking for and just have to make it yourself.  Joseph is a Legomaniac and we (umm, I) came up with the idea of making hearts out of Legos and turning them into necklaces or keychains for his classmates.  We needed a card to go with them, and I recycled the idea of the cardstock Lego blocks that I made for Joseph's birthday banner over the summer.

Joseph dutifully assembled all the hearts.
I *might* have helped attach the keychains.

Joe Joe and I also teamed up to create a giant heart out of Lego bricks to use as a photo prop since I wanted to include a picture on the back of the card.

Then I got to work with printing and cutting.... 

and assembling....

and even personalizing a few cards for teachers.

I may be biased in thinking they were cute enough as is, but punching a hole and attaching the keychains just took them to a ridiculously cuter level.

The completed card, front and back.

I sealed the cards in cellophane treat bags so the kids could see both sides as well as their special present, and labeled them with each child's name in the Lego font.

Joseph might have been this happy had his Valentine party not been canceled to due yesterday's snow day.  They'll do it sometime next week, and now we have more time to decorate a mailbox for him in which to collect all of his friends' cards.

UPDATE, January 2016: Wow, I can't believe how much interest there has been in this post since our crafty little valentine was featured in a round up on POPSUGAR Moms about Lego valentines!  Thousands of page views, and lots of questions about how to make them!  

I made a cardboard template with the measurements in the picture below, and used an Exact-o knife and ruler to cut out the shaded areas.

The Lego piece is called a 2x2 coupling plate, design # 3176.  I picked up the keychains at a local craft store.  Another great option is to use ribbon to make necklaces.

Happy crafting, and Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Pax Attacks

So, when did they start naming winter storms?  And why?  And who would choose a moniker for a storm that means "peace?"  We haven't had a really good snowfall around here until Pax dropped about a  foot of snow on our doorstep overnight.

I would rather have gone to the gym and enjoyed my day off, but school was canceled and there was just a *little* snow to be shoveled.  Our neighbors' dog was in chin deep!

Another snow day turned a 4 day weekend (due to a professional day and Presidents Day) into a 5 day weekend.  We figured that by midday everyone would be going stir crazy, so we hosted an afternoon movie screening with our bestest buddies.  The kids enjoyed Turbo and popcorn, and sanity was restored for a least a little while.