Weekly Wrap-up

It has been a busy week and for the most part it has gone by quickly.  The early start to the day (five children arrive before 6:50 am) has limited my writing and prep time in the morning.  However, the cats are quite enjoying having so much company first thing in the morning — then the baby arrives and they do this;

We’re still working on ‘be gentle’ so at this point a hug looks more like a bodyslam.  The garden flowers probably wish they could run away too;

The older children make a daily trip around the yard to collect spiderwebs to add to ‘soup’ and building projects.  I’ll admit it makes a good glue but I don’t like the web ball collections;

The girls’ favorite ‘toy’ has been a dead bee that they found.  Each day they build homes for it;

They made sure it had a pillow for its bed;

They love that it is “so soft and fuzzy”.  Together they go on many adventures;

We’ve done some art projects indoors;

And outside we painted the wood pieces from the loose parts area;

They created some wonderful designs – I was impressed by this color blending done by a four year old;

It is just tempra paint and this wood stays outdoors so I’m not sure how long these designs will last but they are beautiful;

Temporary or permanent these paintings will add some colour to the building projects and if the paint fades or washes away we can paint them again. 🙂

Watercolour

Last February when I attended a workshop on messy play I noted that the presenter, Lisa Murphy – The Ooey Gooey Lady, often used liquid watercolor in many of her activities.  I was excited when I discovered that Cre8tive Art Supplies carried a similar product.

Recently I’ve used it in several of our summertime activities – like painting sticks to decorate the garden.  First we went on a walk through the neighbourhood to collect the sticks.  Then we sanded them;

I added the liquid watercolor to some shaving cream foam to use to paint the sticks;

I loved the vibrant colors that were created by using just a few drops of liquid watercolor.

The baby had no interest in painting sticks but she did like mixing foam and watercolor;

As the children finished painting each stick we stuck them in the bare spot of the garden;

Once the foam paint dried there was no color left on the sticks?!?!?  It was somewhat disappointing.

Another day we tried using the liquid watercolor with water and bath puffs to add color to the deck;

Again, beautiful bright colors but they didn’t show up much on the deck even when it was wet and there was no color visible once it dried.

I gave the children some white paper to see if that worked better;

We placed the dripping wet paper in the sun to dry and watched as all the color disappeared too. 😦

Next I’m going to try using the liquid watercolor to tint some playdough.  Good thing these activites are about the process not the product!

Back to Work

The first week back to work after vacation was very busy.  There have been some periods of adjustment but I think we’re settling into a good routine.  I’ve already written about a few of our activities like the Reno Boxes and the Rona Parts but here is a short recap of the rest of the week.

A mini project from my vacation was the addition of the cat loft.  Mali likes the view from above as the children call her name and wave;

My goal was really just to get the cats’ beds out of the hallway but the cats are thrilled to have a new retreat to relax in;

One of the children made a roller coaster for the toy bugs in the playroom — Mali loved that too, purrr.  I think she missed having the children here to play with.

We had a full day of water activities with five different water stations.  This was the most popular one according to the younger children;

They were making coffee.  The older children preferred the boat locks – experimenting with using the pump to raise and lower the water level to get the boats to their destination.

But by far the favorite activity this week has been watching the leaf cutter bees;

There are two of them that have been diligently working to line their nest with leaves in preparation to lay their eggs.  I believe they are supposed to be solitary bees but both of them have chosen the same crack in a log;

The children have been very observant and have discovered which leaves in the yard are the ones that the bees like best;

And some of them decided to help out by building a ‘bee hive’;

 

Reno Boxes

Another exciting thing about renovating is that you get some really cool boxes like these;

There are eight children in the above photo – all inside the boxes 🙂 We decorated the boxes too;

My current group of children is evenly mixed – four boys and four girls – so at one point the boxes were labelled “Girls” and “Boys” That didn’t last long since the girls did most of the decorating and soon changed all the labels to ‘Girls only’ but the boys were still allowed to visit.

These boxes kept the children engaged for two solid hours and eventually the larger one was flattened so everyone piled into the “rescue ship”;

This is why renovating is so much fun.

 

Rona Parts

Prior to my vacation I had made several trips to various stores to see the selection of bathroom fixtures for my planned renovation.  On one trip to Rona I noticed a display of ‘firewood’ by the exit.

I don’t know why anyone would want to burn such lovely pieces of wood.  I bought three packages to add to the loose parts area in the yard.  There was only one day left before my vacation so the children had little time to experiment with the new supplies but one child did make a ‘snowflake’;

Yesterday – first day back after vacation – there was a lot more excitement about the new loose parts – so many to choose from;

Foundations to build;

Creative design elements;

and even an interesting literacy component;

I can’t wait to see what they come up with today.

My Vacation – 2012 Edition

Today is the last day of my vacation.  Around here vacation time is not for relaxing or travelling.  Two weeks with no childcare schedule or programming.  Two weeks without young children in my home. Vacation time is when we tackle those big projects that can’t be completed in a weekend.

So, what did we do this year you ask?  First I’ll give you a little history.

We’ve lived in this 100 year old house for 16 years.  It is relatively small – 1040 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It was in rough shape when we moved in but over the years we’ve fixed floors and shingles.  We’ve had new windows, doors and a furnace installed.  We’ve painted, built cupboards, put on siding and done many landscaping projects. The bathrooms have been on the ‘project list’ since the beginning but we keep putting them off.

The basement bathroom gets the most use.  It is dark and dingy.  It has an ugly plastic shower stall that leaks but it works.  It is permanently dirty – stained — cleaning seems pointless.  Upstairs the vinyl floor is cracked and buckled and there are pieces missing.  The bathtub finish is rough and uncomfortable – I never use the bathtub but some of my sons do.  The plaster walls are ugly and the paint is bad.  Both the floor and the paint are yellowish from age – I hope.

The dilemma was which bathroom to attempt first.  I want to replace the plastic shower in the basement with a tile one but I’ve never installed tiles before.  What if we encounter issues and the project takes longer than two weeks to complete? The daycare children use the basement bathroom and although I could let them use the upstairs bathroom temporarily I didn’t really want to.  So, even though it doesn’t get much use, the upstairs bathroom would be this year’s vacation project – the ‘practice’ project.

Of course I didn’t remember to take a ‘before’ picture because we started demolition as soon as my ‘vacation’ began.  I think my husband and I make a good team for these projects because we have different skills.  I’m more into details – the plans, the lists, and the finish work.  My husband is better at the loud, messy stuff – and I rely on him to use those scary power tools.  (shudder)

We have different methods of working too.  Even when he doesn’t need assistance he likes to have someone (me) nearby so he can ‘vent’ – I ‘help’ by ‘listening’.  There’s always a sense of urgency when he is working. Sometimes I offer suggestions and he retorts ‘Do you want to do this?’  I prefer to work independently – slowly and methodically – analyzing and pausing often to reflect on the progress.  My husband helps by pacing and ‘encouraging’ me to stay on task.

In the last week I spent a lot of time here;

I wasn’t sleeping in the bathtub (although it is comfy enough that I could have); the sheets and quilt are there to protect the new tub from paint, caulking and grout.

Tiling was something new for both of us so there was a lot of trial and error and many trips to the store.  I discovered that there are special tile nippers for glass tiles – the ones I was using worked but they left tiny little shards of glass on the floor.  The slivers of glass were easier to find if you just followed the trail – took me a while to figure out what those red streaks were, I felt no pain.

The walls are painted ‘Liberty Gray’ to match the lighter parts of the wall tiles.  It is a shade of blue but I had a mild anxiety attack when I first opened the paint can – it looked purple (mauve). I don’t like purple and I detest pink and red.  I usually stick to earth tones so even blue is unusual for me but I’m really happy with this color scheme.

Overall it was a slow process – not as physically demanding as some of our projects but there were so many steps and periods of waiting for caulking/grout/paint to dry.  Two weeks of time and a $1500 budget and the upstairs bathroom is now complete.  I need to find/buy some towels that match.

It functions well but we don’t use it.  I often turn on the light and stand in the doorway to look at it – like a piece of artwork.  We use the bathroom in the basement so we don’t get the new one dirty. 🙂