Saturday, November 27, 2010

Silly Dancing and Singing

Last night Colin got silly after bath and before I got him into pajamas. I quick grabbed the camera and while it wasn't exactly the same as before it was still pretty cute. I figured out how to stitch the videos together so I made three videos into one. He starts off counting and then sings the ABC's again. Prior to getting the camera he was singing a nonsense song but he never went back to it.

Since I still had the set up all out to upload I figured I would just post it now, it doesn't qualify for Decembers video anyway.

Colin Dancing and Singing from Rebecca Berry on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Small Buisness Saturday

I just found out about this now (probably because I'm not on facebook) and I had to pop on to tell everyone about it because I think it is awesome.  We all know that this weekend people will be getting some SERIOUS shopping done! This new movement, called Small Business Saturday, is asking that instead of shopping exclusively at big box stores this weekend,  head on over and reinvest some of that money in your own community by shopping at a small independently owned businesses. 

 If you don't feel like going over to the other website (the title of the post is a link) I'll retype some of their facts here:
  • For every year in the last decade 60-80% of new jobs were created by small buisnesses.
  • For every $100 spent at small local business $68 gets returned to the community.

Need more incentive? If you have an American express card you can register it and receive a $25 credit if you spend $25 or more at a small independently owned business on Saturday and use your American Express Card!! Sign up here.  I'm a little confused if all 'eligible merchants' ("any independently owned small businesses that accept the American Express Card") are 'participating merchants' but I'm looking for clarification.

I thought this was a great idea so I wanted to pass it along.  No one is asking for exclusivity, just a little love for the small businesses.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fall Videos

Video of the Month from the last few months:  Enjoy.

We visited my parents for my fathers 60th birthday. Lukas and Colin got playing together and made up this game where they ran down the hallway onto a pile of pillows. There are probably 7 versions of this video, so I choose the two that I thought were the cutest. I couldn't pick between them so I uploaded both.  I have no idea what the crash is at the end of the second one, but if memory serves nothing was broken. Colin's face was so cute when it happens that I decided not to cut it out.

Colin and Lukas Playing from Rebecca Berry on Vimeo.

Colin and Lukas Playing 2 from Rebecca Berry on Vimeo.

Colin sings a rousing rendition of ABC's while in the bath tub, complete with a missing letter or two and big finish. 

Colin sings the ABC's from Rebecca Berry on Vimeo.

All-Star. Colin is all sports all the time right now. Between soccer and baseball I'm not sure how we haven't broken a lamp yet. If we had a yard to play in he wouldn't be playing inside. Here he is playing baseball with Sean. I wanted to upload a soccer video too, but it didn't come out well. Maybe next month.

Baseball from Rebecca Berry on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We Love Preschool

This post has been a long time coming, I'm sorry I haven't gotten to it sooner. I am beyond relieved to report that Colin now loves school. He isn't running into the room without a backward glance (I'm not sure we will ever get there) but he hasn't cried in weeks and he gives me lots of big smiles as we wave to each other out the windows (his favorite way to say goodbye).  He has learned which days of the week are school days and he looks forward to them instead of dreading them. He is even starting to learn about 'what time it is' to try to help him understand when he goes to school as well as when he goes down for a nap and bedtime. His understanding is obviously very rudimentary at this age but he will watch for the clock to become "one zero zero" and then tell me it is nap time.
(Back to School) We have officially upped him to three days a week and this has been the best thing for him. There was too long of a gap between the days he went to school and by the time we got around to a school day again, he was forgetting that he liked it and was crying a lot more (compared to the day when he went back to back). Now with more days spread out he can really remember the routine. The cost differential turned out to be less than $4 an hour for the extra day so it was well worth it (this is mainly because we were getting a very bad deal when he was 2 days a week but that is a different story). Colin has one teacher in particular who is his favorite. She was on vacation of the first month of school and his recovery was timed with her arrival, not sure how much one has to do with the other, but it could go either direction (he has no bad associations with her so she is his favorite, or she showed up and he started to like school). Earlier this week I asked him who his favorite teacher was and he said "Miss Marianne" instead of his usual response "Mommy".
Recently, in his 'things-to-take-home' folder was the 'scare crow' he was making the first time I picked him up after we made the plan to shorten his day. I think this piece of artwork will probably get saved forever. I have promised myself I will not save everything he makes but this particular piece brings me right back to that day when I was so relived to be picking up a happy child. It was his turning point, and to be honest it was mine as well. The point when I stopped questioning if this was really the right thing for him.

Here is a photo of it, along with two other current favorites.I'm hoping taking pictures of the projects I like will quell my need to save them. I will save a few. It is, after all, his first year. But I honestly want to save about 50% of the things he brings home.  I'm kind of surprised by that to be honest, I'm generally not all that sentimental. Mostly it is pieces like these where I know he choose the particular pieces to put on it and placed them himself. I love to see what he chose and think about the process of making it. For example in the apple print (which he did on his first or second day) you can see that the three yellow apples were chosen first, which is not surprising since yellow is his favorite color right now. I wonder if he was encouraged to choose the other colors after having a yellow only picture or if he choose them himself. Am I the only mother who reads into this stuff? Please tell me I'm not alone.

This was the right decision for us. He is doing great at school, and the carry over that we were experiencing when I would leave him at other times has also gotten better.  In fact, he is also getting more confident when we are out and about and I have also seen some improvements in his emotional regulation (he can check himself when he is about to cry unnecessarily and will turn his mood around on his own)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bienvenedo a Miami

If you were paying attention you'll remember that we had a trip to Miami planned for this fall. We have already returned, and we had a great time. Sean's brother and his wife were wonderful hosts and despite Colin not napping for 3 of the 4 days we were there things went very smoothly. Even the flights weren't a big deal. Here is the story of our trip, photo essay style.
 We arrived Saturday afternoon, so we just settled in, had dinner and put Colin to bed. Sunday morning Chris took us to the Coast Guard base (where he works) so Colin could get an up close and personal look at the air planes and helicopters. A little boys dream!
 Colin takes her for a test drive!  Sean and I were pretty nervous he would touch something and cause a problem but Chris didn't seem to be concerned about it in the least. Found out later that someone accidentally set off the internal fire extinguisher in one of the cock pits a few days later. Very VERY glad it wasn't us.
 Colin was very impressed with this little truck. He enjoys steering wheels right now so I guess it was a bit more appealing than the airplane. Plus he is staring right at the airplane from this angle so it probably was a better view.

 Now to test out the helicopters! Get this boy a flight helmet he is ready for take off.
 Do you think it is a problem that the co-pilot can't see over the dashboard?
 Ok last one. I just really like how Colin's face is in the little window.
 After the planes we took Colin to play mini-golf. He saw a picture of himself playing on Saturday morning and that was all he talked about for the next 24hrs. We promised him we would find a place to go golfing in Miami. Thankfully once it was over, he was over it. I was nervous he would just keep asking over and over again.. Oana and I tied for 1st place if you were wondering.

On Monday we took Colin to Zoo Miami (I'm a sucker for a zoo so it is so great to have a kid who loves them too!) I don't know why I had low expectations but this zoo was really good! Large well designed exhibits, where animals had lots of room to roam but were never too far from the public to be impossible to see. The zoo was empty that day since it was a school day, but I couldn't imagine going in the summer. It was uncomfortably hot and it was late October!  Here Colin is feeding the pelicans. He really enjoys feeding the animals and the raw dead fish didn't seem to phase him in the least.
The boys somehow ended up a little matchy matchy that day. Funny how Colin ended up was a mix between Sean and Chris' outfits.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. Nothing overly special about it but it really captured the moment for me.
 Colin of course loves the statues as much as the live animals. I'm a sucker for a photo op! Say cheese Uncle Chris!
Can you believe it? We got to feed giraffes AGAIN!  (See the first time here) This time it was real leaves instead of crackers and there was no one there but us. I could have stayed all day. You have no idea how hard it was not to push Colin out of the way and do it myself. What a great experience for all of us.
 Check out that tongue! When I asked if we were allowed to touch them, the keeper said "they are pretty head shy so they will likely move their head away" which I took to mean "go ahead and try" so I did! I thought they would be soft like a horse but it is much more bristly as tiny hairs stick out all over their heads. Not as soft as they look.
Oana got to touch one too, although at this point we got yelled at by the non-keeper-helper but it was so worth it to touch a giraffe.  I love them.
 Sometimes it was easier just to pick up the stroller than to get Colin in and out at every exhibit. They actually had mulit-person bike pedaled carts which I didn't realize had a baby seat on them. I was very jealous of them until we got back to the front and saw that they were $125 to rent. Never mind.
 Having lunch with Uncle Chris before taking another non-nap. We finally had to just stay home the next day to make sure we didn't miss Colin's 'window of opportunity' after three days in a row with no nap he was a mess.
 Napping day wasn't a total waste though, we quick packed him up after he woke up and headed down to Miami Beach (or maybe it is South Beach, I don't remember).  Colin this time enjoyed the sand but after putting his toes in the water he said he was " all done with the ocean" and since it was already 4pm (so we wouldn't be staying long) I was happy not to have to cart home a wet kid.
 He and I had fun collecting sea shells and running in the sand while Sean and Chris went swimming.  When we arrived Colin had two crackers in his hand that he was hoarding from his snack. Since it was clear he had no intention of eating them I told him to throw them to the birds. Newbie mistake! We got swarmed! Which, for obvious reasons terrified Colin (although it didn't help that Uncle Chris showed VERY REAL fear and I scoped him up and ran away.) I spent much of our time there showing him that the seagulls are actually afraid of him. He eventually got up the courage to run toward them and watch them fly away. Not something I wanted to teach him, but I also don't want him to go up and be terrified of birds (like Uncle Chris!?)
 My baby's footprints in the sand. If only they would stay that small forever.
 He did actually nap that day, but spent a lot of time at the beach like this. He kept telling me he was still tired and was going to sleep (he didn't). That is what you get kid for sitting up and talking for and hour and a half and not napping for three days!!

 Watching the birds fly.

He smiles with his whole body sometimes!

In the hours before our flight home we let Colin run around and play at a nearby park. Unfortunately he was a bit of a crank-pot (understandably) so we ended up heading back early to get him down for a nap (which he woke up too early from anyway) and then headed back to the airport for our flight home.

We had a lot of fun and enjoyed some relaxing (albeit rather windy) nights on the balcony after Colin went to bed. Thankfully Colin's night sleeping wasn't affected in the least, in fact he was sleeping in until after 8 the whole time we were there(which was likely part of the problem). It looks like Chris won't be in Miami much longer so we are very glad we got to squeeze one last trip in before he got a new assignment.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Favorite Things: Older Toddler Edition

It is time again for one of my favorite type of posts where I get to share some of my favorite things.  In this 'older toddler' edition (think 2yr olds) I'm going to share some things that Colin has been enjoying over the last few months.  If it is Colin's favorite thing, it is my favorite thing too!

 Do-A-Dot markers and books. Once upon a time I was reading something (surprised?) about how kids are entering kindergarten without the hand coordination and muscle development necessary for writing (something about video game systems I think was mentioned). Regardless, these markers were mentioned as tools to help develop the hand muscles of preschoolers. So when I saw them in Michael's I got them. We tried them out a bunch of times and Colin just loves them. Sean even used them with Colin on one of their solo nights and was so impressed at how easily Colin would 'paint' the pictures. The books that the same company makes are a little expensive ($5-6) but SO worth it because 1) they keep in mind the size of the sponge head when they make the picture and 2) the paper is super thick so no running through onto your table. I love them, Colin loves them, and now we can start sending art to all his grandparents!

Draw Thumb Animals. I have to send a big shout out to my dear ole mom on this one. This was in Colin's stocking last year or the year previous and I'm pretty sure I thought she was crazy. Colin was (and is) way to young for this. However, I brought it on our recent trip to Boston and it was a life saver! Colin was very near meltdown in a restaurant as we waited for food and I pulled it out and started helping him make the pictures using his own finger and thumb prints. While he was only involved in part of the project he loved it and it got us through until the meal arrived.  Please Santa, can we have some more??

Plan City Road and Rail. While our road and rail set isn't nearly this involved, Colin has a great time with it. Sure there are many many less expensive options than this brand, but this set is a bit different. First it is made by a company I really like that uses all natural, non-toxic material and has oodles of certifications that back that up. Second, it has road and rail which adds another dimension of imaginary play (and the little cars are just adorable).Plus the expansion possibilities are just as good  as with the other more conventional system (if not better), and if Colin becomes 'Thomas' obsessed like most little boys, they are compatible with those trains and tracks too.

ImagiPLAY Buddy Blocks. These are another lifesaver while waiting for food to arrive. Each face of the block has a different animal on it (for a total of six).It ends up being a two step process since you have to turn all the blocks to the side you want to work on(each animal is a different color) then you put them together. The number of different pictures keeps Colin entertained long enough for food to arrive. He also enjoys just simply stacking the blocks too so it is two toys in one. It does have a little box to keep all the pieces in, I only wish that box had a lid so I didn't loose them in the diaper bag. The whole thing is about 4 inches square (maybe an inch and a quarter high), so it is small and easy to keep on hand. The problem is I can't use it too often or he looses interest.

Melissa & Doug ABC Puzzle. In general Colin is a big fan of puzzles at this age but he seems to like this one particularly because it has so many pieces. I like it because it reinforces his letters at the same time, while he learned all his letters very quickly, I've noticed he does forget if we don't work on them occasionally. The pieces also end up being turned into towers on occasion as well.

Preschool Prep Company DVD's. I will admit that I was totally skeptical of these DVD's when I saw them advertised, but I can say these people knew what they were doing. Research has shown that movement helps kids associate objects with words or concepts (e.g.if you want your baby to learn the word spoon, make the spoon dance around in front of her). They took advantage of that, such that whatever the focal item (letter, shape, number, sight word) it dances around the screen while someone repeats it over and over with varying voice tone. Absolutely mind numbing for an adult but Colin eats it up. He now prefers these over Signing Time (although I don't really understand why) and he knows about a handful of sight words which makes for a fun party trick. He learned all the letters (upper and lower case) and numbers within a few viewings, it was pretty cool, and even after he knows them he still asks to watch.

I should note that I also love amazon wish lists. If you have a baby and you havn't made them a wish list you should check it out. Colin's grandparents and relatives love knowing what kinds of things he would be interested in come gift giving time. It is really a great system, I keep it updated as I come across items I think would be good (which is awesome in itself because I would never remember some of the things otherwise), and then the family can just check out the list whenever they need a gift and find something they want to get him. Its a win win.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

 Colin all dressed up and ready to go to the Halloween parade. His pose had a lot of motion in it so he was very difficult to photograph this year.  It was a bit chilly here but nothing compared to what it would have been like in Syracuse. Colin was wearing a onesie, turtleneck, and then the jersey and two pairs of pants!
 Colin marching in the parade with his trick or treating bag. Turns out we never actually went trick or treating this year, but the bag was good for holding his baseballs.

 The view from the back. 

Colin wasn't too sure about the parade at first but he eventually 'warmed up' to the idea and got down and walked, pointing out all the kids in costume watching the parade route.

Leo and family all dressed up for Halloween as the little rascals. I would love to dress up as a family, unfortunately Sean does not share my enthusiasm for Halloween.

Later in the afternoon we took Colin to a Halloween party/fundraiser held at his school. Colin's favorite part was the pony ride! I wasn't sure how he would feel about it but he took to it like a duck to water.

All smiles on the pony. By far my favorite picture of the day even if you can't see his costume or the pony.  We have so much Mets gear that even with a coat on, Colin was still 'in character'.

 Dawn and I collaborated on some Halloween Cake Pops for the bake sale of the Halloween party. This was not my original idea, nor did we pull it off as well as the original but we had fun and as long as you didn't inspect too closely they were cute. These were ghosts, although I'm willing to admit they came off more like storm troopers.   Ghosts had a chocolate cake base and the pumpkins had a yellow cake base.
Here are the pumpkins, with their tic-tac stems.  The idea came from Bakerella.  I've made cake balls before but these were a bit more challenging. They were originally going to be jack-o-lanterns but the edible ink pens I bought (wilton brand) do not write on chocolate. So they got to be plain pumpkins and we had to run out last minute to get mini chocolate chip eyes for the ghosts.