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Oh, Oh, Oh...

It's Halloween again.
We opted for the faster Marker Jack-O-Lantern face this year!
Zozie liked that he could do multiple versions each day of the week...
Draw, put out on porch.  Next day, wipe clean (washable markers), draw another face, put out on porch.
Rains.  Oops.
Mama, my pumpkin face is melted!
It's ok, now we can draw AGAIN, right?

At school, there was the annual "Halloween Fashion Show Extravaganza".
And indeed it was.
Kids in fantastic costumes, having a dance party to the tunes of KATY PERRY's Fireworks.

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine.
Just own the night, like the 4th of July.
(but in October).
Oh, oh, oh...

Zozie wanted to be a Zoo elephant, and me to be his Zookeeper.  Not exactly sure what the difference is between a "Zoo elephant" vs. just an "elephant" for costuming purposes?  Pulling my safari shirt tight across my near 4month pooch belly, we made our debut that morning, bopping along.

In the evening, there's no getting away from the Trick-or-Treating this year.
We went along one block and collected the treats, then came home to do the best part of the evening...
The What will you pick? Game.

So what IS the What will you pick? Game, you ask?
The rules are simple.
Each person gets a tupperware bowl.
In our case, we had 3 people. (Zozie, Mama, Dalee).

We place the pile o' goodies in the middle.
Then we go around in a circle, asking "What will you pick? , taking turns to place one piece of treat in our bowl.  Keep going till the stash is gone.
We place the lid on our tupperware and each have our own bowl of treats.

Best part of the game for mama & dalee?
That Zozie just has 1/3 of all he collected.


I'm STUCK!!!

Mama...I'm STUCK!!!
We woke from a cry for help early this morning....
"Come to our room Zozie, what's the matter???"
We see this.
His hand, literally, CAUGHT IN A COOKIE JAR.
The face says it all.  Altho the grip was still pretty tight.
Lesson learned.
Umm...We think.


Poking Fun!

Presentation:  Shape Tracing.

 "I want to write smooth letters, mama..."
Zozie has been asking to write alot recently.
He's been working on his name,  but at 3.5, he often does "love letters" where he's is pretending to write sentences in paragraph form and give them to me all folded up.  The sentences are just loops and squiggles, but they connect, like cursive letters, or in his words, "smooth".  "That's E, mama, look..."as he makes a small loop in one of his sentences.

Montessori starts toddlers with lower case cursive letters when introducing the alphabet.  What?  None of this ALL CAPITAL learning in all the kids toys, books, and teaching props sold in stores?  What's up with that? 

NOPE.  Apparently, lower case cursive is considered the natural "next step" to a child drawing loops and circles.  Once introduced, that actually made complete sense to me.  Just think of your 3 yr old drawing pictures.  How hard is it for him to make a solid straight line, let alone a series of straight lines that connect in a certain sequence (Print Capitals).  Curves and loops are much easier for little hands.  Also, grammatically, we don't write in all caps.  Caps only begin a sentence and lower case letters are used 90+% of the time. 

Now to the shape "poking".  Tracing is the foundation on which Montessori builds writing skills.  When a child shows interest in writing, they are asked to start with the METAL INSERTS.  This repetition of tracing different shapes with a pencil builds their coordination and pencil grip, skills they need to master in order to move on to writing.

At the LAB, I was in need of a FAST new home tool, and the metal inserts were much too expensive to own.  So this one is really simple, only requiring some paper and a marker.  It builds on the idea of tracing shapes, so we used various geometric shapes, outlined by dots, and we asked Zo to hand-poke the dots for tracing purposes.  Sounds basic and simple, but the kids really dig it.  Now run along and go do some poking-fun of your own!

The Goal
To build hand eye coordination & focus as foundation to start writing

The Set Up
1)  Cut scraps of paper
2)  Markers to draw geometric shapes and outline each shape with dots.  Make the dots more dense if child is older, looser if child is younger.
3)  Sharpened Pencil
4)  Small hand towel

The Presentation
1)  Bring tray to the table
2)  Select one shape to work on
3)  Lay the shape on the folded towel to create a soft surface for poking
4)  Take the sharpened pencil in one hand and come down firmly on one of the dots, piercing the paper
5)  Continue to trace along the shape until all dots have been pierced.
6)  Ask child to clip up their finished shapes on a ribbon (Our own addition to work clipping pincher skill and just an opportunity for the child to have a "finish" to the routine in displaying his work)

Some poking fun at home:


Puleta Ab-lay!

Ever wonder what a Chinese speaking American toddler sounds like reading Spanish?
We were inspired by one of our Blog Followers who is a fluent native Spanish speaker teaching her daughter Chinese in their own homeschool.  Since Dalee can speak Spanish, we thought to read a few Dora stories to Zozie, just to hear his "Spanese" accent!

Open the door, shouts Dora.
Puleta Ab-lay, screams Zozie.
(snicker, snicker...squeeks mama & dalee.)


BooBoo Glue.

For whatever reason, my toddler LOVES band-aids.
They make everything better... kinda like ketchup. (For him).
They come in lots of fun shapes, sizes, and patterns.
We like sticking to the plain old boring beige, but sometimes "shake it up" with bright solid colors like zesty orange, mint green, and hot yellow.  
(Wait, is that a color?)

We added this "First Aid" cup to his own VANITY STATION in the bathroom.
He goes through ALOT of band-aids, or "OK-Bands" (Pronounced "OKay-Bahn" in Japanese/Taiwanese) whenever there's an ou-wee.  
But what's the Secret Sauce?  The BooBoo Glue.

Yes, that's right.  His own little antibiotic cream dispenser.  
To Zo, the "Glue" is the key to success in healing everything.  
He applies the glue to all wounds, even ones that don't break skin.  I tried stopping him before, but it's just easier to not most times.  Alittle extra glue never hurt anyone.

On this day though, Zozie came home with a bad sandal blister on the side of his foot.  We've been gently nursing this tiny wound for the past day or two.  He changes his own dressing and likes to give himself fresh OK-bands...until he's, well, OK!  And when he's OK, I'm OK.

Here's a little clip of him playing paramedic to himself:


I shoulda had a...

Sorry I've been away this last month.
I've not been myself...just alittle off kilter.
Walkin' sideways when the world around me is darn straight.
I needed something fresh.
So I've met a new friend.
She's smooth, tart, and is good... very good to me.
Icy cold, but I like that.
We have been hanging out nightly, ever since I found out I have a new passenger on board.

That's right, we are growing a tiny new Hapa LAB rat.
A new subject to share in the fun here at the lab with Zozie.
For whatever reason, that little new labbie just loves V8.
But not much else.
Zozie has named our newest member "Little Bean" (豆), or "Beanie" for short.  We've updated Beanie's profile photo (on right @ 13 wks today) as a welcome to our LAB.
It's been a turbulent ride for us so far.
Intense insomnia, bland tastebuds, and that relentless nausea!
We are both glad we've found a new friend that doesn't mind hanging out with us in this most unflattering state.  Crack me open another!  I love me some liquid veggies.

Alas, we're slowly crawling out of that vortex of fatigue and typing on the keyboard again.
It's good to be back, my old friends.


The Harvest.

Nothing says fall like going to a farm for a true harvest.
The sun.  The soil.  The corn.  The hand-churned ice cream.
And yes... the sweat.  The lines.  The husk cuts on the hands from shucking.
We love it all...cuz it's real.
No costumes, no candy, no spooky stuff, and nothin' to buy.

We packed up the troops and headed out to Ardenwood Historic Farm again this year.  This is actually our MAIN fall event each season.  It highlights the changing of the seasons with brilliant foliage and teaches the true pioneer spirit of an active working farm.  A perfect Montessori outing for little ones seeing the cycle of farming from soil to table.

I got a POPCORN one, mama!
Two varieties of maize for public harvest:  Popcorn & Indian Corn.  The popcorn was to be dried for a month, and can actually be popped on the cobb directly in the microwave or on the stove.  What?  Doesn't popcorn come out of the waxy bag from the microwave?  The Indian corn was for decorative purpose only with it's beautiful kernels ranging from indigo blue, deep variations of plum, and glorious oranges & golds.  The only rule was that you give back 50% of your harvest to the farm as payment for taking the other half home.  A pretty good deal for the pure adventure of it all.

Ok, I guess there was ONE spooky thing on the farm...
Besides the crops, we met lots of nice bugs today...

This guy greeted us on the tractor train.

This little wormie said "Hello" when we peeled his home open.
At the farmhouse, we made our own husk doll, scrap quilt, and sampled hand churned ice cream and yummy homemade cookies & popcorn...

My choo-choo quilt.

Alot of muscle to make ice cream!
A nice BIG smooch for mama for a fun harvest day!
See you next year Ardenwood!



Hummm...What are you lookin' at???
The reason for the Long pause between posts.
And the short answer?
Our Junk.

So it's "Junk Clearing" time again.
Our Annual Mandarin Playgroup's Yard Sale is back!  Junk Central is Chez Moi.  Long driveway, perfect for displaying oldies but goodies (to others). This means all bags are dropped at my doorstep for the FUN FEST of sorting and tagging the 3 weeks before the big sale.

This time, 10 families joined in the madness!
Also new this year?  An expanded "Dollar Snack Shack"!

Buying & Selling.
Pass up an opportunity for kids to practice real life transactions?  Not on a Montessori mama's life!  No...things are not free in life, and YES, we have to WORK for them.   And that work is actually FUN...most of the time!

This little four letter word gets a bad wrap these days.  WORK.  It's really too bad.  There are lots of way worst ones out there.  "Work" is just the process of arriving at the next step of things.  Nothing loaded... just a process.  Yet ALOT of us spend ALOT of time trying to avoid it.  It's like lifting your foot to take the next step so you can actually get somewhere, right?

Well for our Snack Shack Steps, we (with kids) made the signs, set the menu, made the inventory, then had the kids use a cash register and sell the products while trying not to consume everything themselves (lesson in self control built-in.)  Work...but they felt like grown ups doing all this.  And grown ups DO work, alot.  Especially ones that stay home with kids all day...boy, do we work.  
To be humane, we offered each child 2 snack coupons to redeem at the shack.

Why was everything a dollar?
Easy math.  One item = One dollar.  At ages 3-5, this math was something achievable.  Minimal adult supervision, maximum independence.  Although from the looks of the picture above, we may have ate most of our profits...yikes.  Perhaps more adult supervision may have been wise.

After the fun hard work, we served a yummy Chinese noodle lunch complete with Boba drinks!  (Yes, more food makes a happy bunch.)

More snap shots of the Big Sale!

@ the Check Out.

Snack Shop Maintenance.
Lollipops & Silly Faces...hard work.

Humm...what to eat next?
Given our jaw dropping success at last year's sale, we fell a little short of record breaking this year.
But with only a year's time to "restock" our junk, I'd say we did pretty well.

Still managed to juice this out.
A nice chunk o'change to reuse and recycle.
Wanna go clear out some junk with some of your mommy pals?