Thursday, December 27, 2012

Melody Lap Harp

LC asked Santa for one Christmas gift...a harp. She was thrilled to get this lap harp:

Rice Krispies Treats Cupcakes for Xmas

LC did spread some joy on Christmas!

After we looked at various pictures online for holiday desserts...LC decided she wanted to make this one to bring to relatives on Christmas. It was supposed to be ornament treats...but I couldn't find licorice string/rope and I didn't have a way for her to make thin, controlled lines with the frosting. LC came up with the idea, last minute, to make what she called "Rice Krispies Cupcakes!" After I melted the butter and marshmallows in a pot and then mixed in the Rice Krispies...I scooped out enough for like 18 mini cupcakes. LC sorted the M&Ms, so the green and red ones would go on the cupcakes that we were bringing with us.

With buttered hands (so the mixture wouldn't permanently stick to her hands), LC molded the treats into balls...

and then she added frosting (I used drops of McCormick food coloring on Duncan Hines creamy frosting in a can; red is hard to make when using vanilla frosting, I we went with pink and light green and white for the holiday colors).

The finishing touch was the peanut butter M&Ms (which stuck very well to the "cupcakes").

I wrapped each "cupcake" individually in cling wrap and placed them all in a container, though they did appear quite smushed by the time we arrived for the visit. I do hope folks were brave enough to taste them after we left, because our official cupcake taster said they are very yummy (she is already asking to make the treat again). The only negative was washing the extremely sticky stuff that was left inside the pot.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ornaments: Candy Cane, Snowflake, Jingle Bells

LC had the best time making three holiday ornaments at Hootenanny Art House a few days ago. Her favorite was the candy cane ornament (a gold pipe cleaner + beads). There was also a snowflake ornament (popsicle sticks + glue + buttons). After making the wire ornament (with wooden beads + jingle bells beads), LC painted it red and green (the art teacher, Aria, used a paper towel to blot excess paint, giving it a lovely effect, and she attached ribbon). It was a great workshop for kids!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

All-natural gingerbread house making!

Is this a huge tray of yummy treats for little LC to eat up? These are for the decorations!

One of the activities we squeezed into our busy holiday schedule was to attend a gingerbread house decorating workshop. They supplied each family with a gingerbread house (already assembled) + a ton of all-natural goodies (popcorn, Shredded Wheat, Cheerios, granola, dried cranberries, dried pineapple rings, pretzel rods, candy cane, gingerbread snowmen, milk chocolate and white chocolate melts, chewy fruit stars etc.) Plus, 3 icings: white, pink (was it supposed to be red?) and green.

While older kids and parents could use the cut pastry bag easily enough to put on the icing...a 4 year old needs to use something else (icing was coming out of the top of the bag). Since there were no other tools available... ten minutes into the session, I suggested that LC use pretzel rods to apply icing...and she agreed.

Isn't the roof lovely?...LC decided to center the pineapple ring and then put the chocolate melts around it.

Can you spot the broken off piece of candy cane that was added to the side of the house?

They went out of their way to supply everyone with a ton of stuff, so the cost of the workshop was actually a bargain, $30 per family. I can't believe people are paying like $95 for similar workshops in NYC. I did let LC eat half a candy cane while we were there (as you can see in the above photo)...I had to break off half, so she could have a smaller piece that would fit on the house (I ignored the battle between the mom and boy at our table, after he saw LC eating it and wanted to indulge as well).

LC had decorated her first gingerbread house at home and she had a blast at this workshop, as well...but I preferred doing it at home because of these reasons:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

LC's Top 9 Books (2012)

Our annual tradition on this blog...a list of LC's favorite books (all kept in our home library).

Half the books on the list for 2011 were quick-read, tear resistant board books, but a child would be able to tear pages out of all the books on this year's list (LC hasn't...she is careful with her beloved books; if she accidentally tears a corner of a page, she asks me to help her tape it up).

She still enjoys picture books filled with huge images (I must admit, I do gravitate to children's books that have amazing drawings), but I've also read a couple of books to her (#1 and #2 on this list, in particular) that contain many stories, with lots of text and a few lovely illustrations (it's a bonus that both of these books also contain detailed maps of the imaginary worlds).

Too many books tied for #10, as I discussed this list with I made "all of LC's other books" number 10 in my mind and ended the list here at #9.

LC's Favorite Books (2012):

#1. Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales (by Beatrix Potter)
#2. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh (by A.A. Milne)
#3. On the Night You Were Born (by Nancy Tillman)
#4. Frida (by Jonah Winter)
#5. The Pout-Pout Fish (by Deborah Diesen)
#6. Coral Reefs (by Jason Chin)
#7. Miss Lina's Ballerinas (by Grace Maccarone)
#8. The Well at the End of the World (by Robert D. San Souci)
#9. We're Different, We're the Same (by Bobbi Jane Kates)

In case you're considering purchasing one of the books on the list, here are my special notes (numbers below correspond to numbers above)...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Simple pleasures...hide-and-seek, chase & sticks

A couple of weeks ago in Prospect Park, LC played with kids in a playgroup...they were enjoying nature. She had fun playing hide-and-seek with a girl who was 6 years old. Then, as we were heading home, she was digging with a stick and playing chase with me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Suzi Shelton Band's Rockin' Holiday Party

LC didn't mind enduring the cold rain (we got soaked, despite having an umbrella over us) on our commute home from The Bell House. She was still riding a wave of warmth after Suzi Shelton's rockin' holiday party at the Gowanus music venue.

The bubbles and the glow necklaces were the icing on the cake, the live kindie music was awesome. Amelia Robinson of Mil's Trills kicked off the concert with an electric ukulele, then Suzi Shelton stepped on stage opening with her song "No Ordinary Day" (my favorite song from her CD). Suzi brought her band, including the horn section, and the adorable Gumdrops to sweeten this holiday celebration for kids and parents. One of our favorite kid-friendly diners in Park Slope, Dizzy's Diner, sold yummy sandwiches at the event (and thankfully coffee, for me!) to give us the energy to keep dancing the whole time. LC was thrilled to hear Suzi sing some holiday tunes.

Amy from Brooklyn Design Lab had a table ready for kids to create their own buttons and LC took advantage of the fun design project...

I bought LC her first harmonica ($5) at Suzi's merch table...and she has been playing it at home non-stop, making up her own songs.

On our way home, we stopped in at Little Things Toy Store and we picked a few Christmas gifts for kids we'll be seeing soon (no batteries required...natural toys; bamboo cars by Hape and organic dolls by Haba). LC told the staff that they wrapped the gifts beautifully (yeah, when I wrap...everything looks lopsided and often I don't go the extra step of using ribbons and bows).

When I mentioned to the saleswoman that I want to get LC her first calendar...since she has been keeping track of the days of the month inside her head, telling me the date each day...and I would like a calendar so LC can cross off the days...the lady was kind enough to give us a cute Calico Critters 2013 calendar for free:

I just picked out the design and photo for our holiday card, so I'm looking forward to giving that out to folks. LC chose the holiday dessert that we will be making together to bring to a family holiday party. I'll put up photos on the blog when I get a chance. LC loves this busy and fun time of year.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Grinch’s Holiday Workshop at CMOM

LC loves Dr. Seuss books and the animated televised classics. So, she was extremely excited to go to the new exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) called the Grinch's Holiday Workshop. She was proud of the hat she made there and she didn't want to take it off afterwards (thank goodness the wind didn't blow it away, since she wore it all the way home).

She even wore the hat to her class at the American Museum of Natural History - the teacher and his assistants complimented her on it.

The CMOM calendar shows the various workshops held each day and this exhibit is open until January 6, 2013. To squeeze this visit into our busy holiday schedule, we had to go on a day when the costumed character was not going to be present. But lots of days remain with "Meet the Grinch" on the schedule, for those who really want to see him. I was surprised how crowded it was even though we chose to go on a day without the character present; I was hoping the area wouldn't be overrun by toddlers. Though this particular exhibit is not very interactive, nor is the space appropriate for play (unlike other CMOM exhibits), a large group of tots stayed there for a long time...they were screaming, crying (begging to go home), running (almost bumping into us many times), throwing balls, spilling drinks or urinating (I couldn't tell the difference, a poor staff member had to come to mop up the hard wood floor). The CMOM staff deserve employee awards or bonuses for always maintaining their cool, keeping smiles on their faces and remaining professional.

We stayed long enough for LC to look at all the giant Dr. Seuss illustrations (she loves the drawings), happily pose with the cutouts, work on a couple of fun art projects and listen to a couple of books being read to the group.

She had a I am happy that we went, despite the noisy chaos in the lower level. Yes, we followed the suggestion of CMOM's FAQ, but it wasn't true for this visit...they state "Wednesday and Thursday afternoons during the school year tend to be our quietest times."

We discovered too late, at the end of our visit, that there was a scavenger hunt list to help visitors make their way throughout the exhibit:

The Dr. Seuss Story Time went on a bit too long, since the friendly staff members didn't seem too familiar with the books, nor knowledgeable about the author. You can't expect young people who probably don't have their own children to read these stories the way parents or teachers might (who have likely read these stories dozens of times and don't need to pay close attention to every word they are reading on each page). Also, the fact that the group consisted mostly of toddlers slowed things down a lot, since a couple of kids interrupted many times to ask questions. LC has watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (TV 1966) on her portable purple DVD player every week for the last it was great they chose to read that book first. LC also enjoyed listening to One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish being read, one of her favorite books last year, then we moved on to other activities while the storytelling continued in the background.

A wonderful part of the exhibit is that they have a table set up for the Who-ville Card-Making. So kids can make cards that will be delivered, along with donated toys and books, to families in Brooklyn and Staten Island who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.

It would have been an improvement if they didn't have a character printed already on the page. The act of coloring it in isn't very creative. I wish they had a book on the table, so kids could look at various characters drawn by Dr. Seuss and copy them (or perhaps have cardboard cutouts for kids to trace). As it is, the staff spent a lot of time helping the large group of the few older kids were on their own (I had to ask staff for crayons because the table was empty after tots took all the supplies). Though LC did add a personal touch to the back of the card, after coloring in the printout, drawing a heart and writing her name.

LC was very much looking forward to making her own Dr. Seuss-inspired rhyming hat. She chose pink paper to be taped to the newspaper hat (the staff made that base in advance, though, so we didn't learn how they shaped it so nicely for a child's head). An improvement for the project would have been to give these kids (who are not toddlers) blank white labels and colorful markers so they could write their own custom rhyming words to stick to the hats. LC has been fascinated lately with rhyming words...coming up to me and telling me things like "mommy, does clock and rock rhyme?" etc. Regardless, I found pre-printed stickers that had the rhyme "day" and "play" (i.e. we play all day) in the bin and that's what LC used on her hat. She very much enjoyed decorating the hat with blue tape and various colors and shapes of paper and foam well as attaching a festive pipe cleaner to it. The hat has held up pretty well.

Sadly, I think LC will outgrow CMOM in about a year. So, I hope they have another couple of awesome new exhibits in 2013.