Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nikolai and the Easter basket


Make your own Easter grass with leftover dye

After we dyed eggs, it seemed like such a waste to just dump the dye out--all that pretty color, wasted! So instead, I decided to dye some computer paper and make it into easter grass! (I had been planning on making my own easter grass anyways and this was  the perfect excuse)

This is pretty straightforward (or you could just make up your own way!) but I made a tutorial anyways! 

Step 1: Crumple up a bunch of sheets of computer paper (I used 6 sheets per basket, but I'd probably use 8 to make it fuller)

Step 2: Dunk half the paper in the first color, then shake off the excess dye over the sink. 

Step 3: Dunk the other half of the paper in the second color, then shake off the excess dye. 

Step 4: Tape the soaked paper above the sink by a dry corner and let dry (I dyed the sheets in batches based on how many I could fit over my sink at one time!). 

Step 5: When your sheets are dry, smooth them out and fold them like a fan, making the individual folds about 1/2" wide (I just evenly folded the paper in half, then quarters, eighths, etc until I had it folded small enough).

Step 6: Cut dyed paper fans into 1/4" inch wide strips. 

At this point I recommend putting on a fun tv show or movie--this part will take you a little bit ;)

When you've got all your sheets cut, put them in your basket!

Ta-da! You've made your own lovely Easter grass!

Belated easter eggs

Forever and ever ago (also known as 2 weeks) we dyed easter eggs.  Nikolai's friend Hyrum was over for a playdate and they really enjoyed turning the eggs different colors.  

Even better were the stickers they put on the eggs once they were dry!

Nikolai really liked the little egg dipper that came with the dye kit--he pretended it was a magnifying glass!

Not pictured: When Niko picked up the egg and said "out, chicken!" and smashed it against the table. Apparently he knows chickens come out of eggs and was trying to crack the egg so it would come out! 

The end result: lots of pretty eggs! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hands on Museum

When we first moved to Ann Arbor and started asking people what fun things there are here to do with little people, we heard a lot about the Hands on Museum.  We took forever to get around to trying it out, but that was probably ok--I think Niko enjoys it way more now than he would have when we first moved here!

So it's this really great children's science museum with all sorts activities where kids can learn scientific principles first hand.  There's some really great displays about tornadoes, recycling, the Bernoulli principle, water tension, among (tons and tons of) others. 

Nikolai always like the Ambulance: 

And the musical piano you can step on is a classic:

In addition to the main museum, they have an excellent room for Preschool aged kids with activities more on their level. 

For instance, there's this really excellent water table, with aquatic wildlife and plastic boats for the tots to splash around with:

There's also fun things like a great little toy kitchen, a mini firetruck to play on, a little fort with a slide and a big fort with stairs:

Nikolai really liked the light table and magnetic shapes:

They also have a whole area with little "discovery" bins, filled with things for the tots to explore.  Nikolai always enjoys the puzzles and plastic animals, but this time he found the magnifying glass:

Those little circles have different things (a stamp, rocks, plastic, a sponge, etc) that are fun to look at under the magnifying glass:

Later, Nikolai took the magnifying glass around and looked at the plastic animals and bugs under it. Fun!

Probably the crowing achievement of the preschool room is the ball machine. It's massive, stretching across the whole room as it transports plastic balls up and down and back and forth.  There's all sorts of fun ways for the kids to interact with it: places where the balls run down a ramp and the kids can go collect the balls in bins, other places where balls collect in a bin for the kids to drop down a swirly ramp, and this spot, where balls get dropped into this bin and tots can press a button to release them all.

Nikolai's favorite part is the pipe that magically whooshes plastic balls right out of his hand:


The funny thing is, that video doesn't even show the half of what the machine does!  It really is magnificent.

We liked the museum so much we got a membership where we can bring some guests--so friends, family, come visit us and we can take you with us for free! We know you'll love it too :D

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Silly Niko

This is something that happens a lot around our house:

1) Nikolai comes up, happy, cute and smiling

2) He wants something he can't have and begins to protest

3) Niko flops down on the floor in dejection and usually starts to wail

4) I distract him by making him laugh and all is well (until he remembers he still wants the thing he wanted, when we have to move to more advanced distraction techniques)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt

Last Saturday Nikolai had his first Easter egg hunt! That morning I was coming down with what I'd later recognize to be a stomach flu but we went all the same, and Nikolai had a grand time.  I think he thought I was kinda weird for telling him to pick up a bunch of plastic eggs and put them in his basket, but all the other kids were doing it so he played along!

I like to think he was thinking "What a weird game mom has devised for me this morning. Ah well, I'll do it anyways."

Later, when we sat down and he found out that there was stuff inside the eggs (mostly stickers, thank heavens, but some candy and chocolate!) then he got really excited about the little venture.  

Funny how an activity that I'm sure took lots of preparation and planning by the ladies at church was over in less then 2 minutes, but it was definitely something we enjoyed all the same! Thanks for the hard work, preparers! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Conference Weekend

When Saturdays and Sundays merge together in the process of listening to messages from church leaders, we eat a lot of yummy food and find ways to occupy the little one so we can listen.

Exhibit A: Homemade cinnamon rolls

(Niko calls them "cake" which isn't far from the truth!)

Exhibit B: A giant box + markers

Nikolai was occupied for 45 minutes, no joke. I don't think he's ever been interested in a non-tv object for that long, ever. 

It was a nice weekend! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Healthy eaters

Despite the regularity with which I bake cookies and other treats, we actually do try and eat healthy! We usually accomplish this for dinner--trying to eat a variety of vegetables and not so much cheese as we'd like, etc. But for lunch with Niko I really struggle. Honestly, most of the time he eats 1) Pasta (either mac and cheese or pasta with sauce) 2) Ramen or 3) Crackers.  So basically, starch starch and nothing but starch. 

I've seen Kylie try this idea before--placing several healthy options in front of your toddler and letting him choose--and finally yesterday we tried it out!

I set the example for Niko by starting with the cucumber and he followed my lead (though I suppose the french dressing didn't hurt ;D), eating all of those before he moved on to the tortilla.  He only completely finished the cucumber and tortilla, surprisingly leaving most of the cheese and eating just some of the grapes and apples. 

I love that his tiny tongue is stuck out in concentration up there!

It's more effort than I want to put into lunch every day (and frankly I don't always have such a variety of fresh produce on hand) but I really liked doing it and I think it's something I'll do regularly right after I've gone shopping. 

Niko also had fun giving Buzz Lightyear (his new BFF) bites of his lunch as Buzz marched around the tray, saving the world and stuff. 

Since I had my camera out (and the light in our apartment was good for once!) I decided to take some pictures of our little cutie. 

Om nom nom.


Sly grin?

Those eyelashes! I'm so jealous! 

So friends, what do you feed your kids for lunch? Do you bother trying to feed them healthy things for lunch or just put all your efforts into dinner?  I welcome any and all suggestions!