Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Having lived in the Hampton Roads area and my (Beth's) parents living in NC for the last number of years we are no strangers to hurricane warnings, gusty winds and flooding.  When we moved to New Jersey we thought we traded in our hurricanes for blizzards.  Apparently we were wrong!

The forecasts started looking pretty menacing at the end of last week with landfall predicted for somewhere in our fair state of New Jersey, storm surges of historic proportions, wind gusts and rainfall on top of it all.  Last year we had the experienced one of the joys of home-ownership....a flooded basement following the rainfall from Hurricane Irene.  So this year we were more prepared.  We had gotten a big wet-vac for Christmas (thanks Karen and Mike!) so we pulled that out of the garage and set it up, ran the hose from the basement window to the street for easy drainage, pulled everything off the lowest shelves, etc.  We located our box of candles (apparently we could open our own small Yankee Candle-esque shop!), checked batteries in flashlights, bought some canned food and wine and hunkered down, ready for the storm.

Sunday night into Monday weren't bad at all.  We spent Monday cleaning the house, organizing things that had been neglected, vacuuming and all that fun stuff; basically taking advantage of Eddie being off of work.  (This was the kind of work we usually have to do at night after Henry goes to bed, which neither of us ever feel like doing!)  As the day progressed the winds started to pick up and the rain started falling (but not much).  We kept the TV on all day and were amazed to see the flooding along the shore and coast even well before high tide.  It was clear that it wasn't going to be a good night for many people.

By nightfall the wind was getting pretty strong and we were thankful that it did not rain much.  Karen and Mike joined us for the evening (since the in-laws had lost power) and they reported lots of downed trees already.  We put Henry to bed, broke out the moscato and hunkered down to watch the TV reports.  (Sidenote: There was some hilarity when I discovered the twitter profile of "El Bloombito", which is a fake twitter account of NYC Mayor Bloomberg who always speaks Spanish at the end of his press conferences.  The fake account is a spanglish version of a mixture of real things he might say along with some humor.  It has made me laugh many times over the last few days.)  We went to bed around 11pm and as I climbed into bed the power went out. 

The wind howled and I had a hard time falling asleep with visions of flying debris and eventual flooding of our basement in my head.  Thankfully when we got up in the morning we found only a few small branches and twigs down in our yard and a dry basement.  We were still without power but we felt pretty lucky considering what we had prepared ourselves for.

We packed up some things and came over to Eddie's grandparents' house since they kept power.  We've enjoyed just hanging around with family, playing with Henry and found out this late this afternoon that our power has returned to our house.

Seeing the reports from around the states really make us feel very lucky that we are all well, our house is safe and we had a warm place to stay.

Thank you to all of you that called, Facebooked, etc. your concern for us!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alphabet Adventure: Letter E

I'm not sure if it was the letter itself or just our moods/schedule last week but Letter E week was not very exciting.  I had grand plans to do superfun activities with plastic Easter Eggs (like these), make a cute elephant craft, etc.  but Henry was more interested in playing with his trains (he's OBSESSED right now) and I wasn't feeling creative so we had a simple week.

The Letter E craft for the week was an easy one. I used this as my inspiration but just had him color in these eggs, I cut them out and Henry glued them on a big letter E that I had cut out ahead of time.

We had "breakfast for dinner" one night and experimented with Picture Frame Eggs.  I could only find our music note cookie cutter so that's what we used.  Henry enjoyed the process but didn't care too much for the final product. 

Another E activity we did was playing with envelopes in our little mailbox.  I wrote the uppercase letters that we've done so far with different colored markers on some small envelopes.  I used the same markers to write their lowercase counterparts on a few sheets of paper and put them in their matching letter envelopes.  I wasn't expecting Henry to actually sort and do much with these but wanted to have some lowercase letters hanging around since the majority of what toys, videos, etc. have is all uppercase.  He enjoyed playing with the papers and putting them in and out of the mailbox.  (This is an activity we will bring back at some point when he's older.)

Other random notes from E week:
-We rode on an escalator and in an elevator at IKEA on Tuesday.  I note the day of the week because they have free kids meals on Tuesdays.  So we had some E fun (Henry loves escalators) and free lunch.
-I printed out the E sheet from the Tot Time Notebook ABC Tracing and Coloring Sheet.  I've been doing this each week and Henry likes the pages.  We're not pushing learning how to write the letters right now but he does like to try to trace the shapes and color in the pictures.
-The libraries in our area all have the alphabet book by Jane Moncure.  Each letter book tells a story about a character that puts things that start with that letter in a "sound box".  Henry LOVES these books and they are an easy way to illustrate letter sounds with familiar objects. 

That's about all for E week!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alphabet Adventure: Letter D!

Another week is done...crazy.  I can't believe that we're halfway through October, the leaves are falling off the trees and Christmas decorations are out at some stores.  Where does the time go?!

We had another good week at Henry's Alphabet Adventure.  This week we talked a lot about Ducks, Dinosaurs and Dirt.

Our Letter D craft this week turned out to be probably my favorites thusfar in our adventure.  We turned a letter D into a Duck.  This one turned out to be done mostly by me so that we didn't end up with a Picasso Duck, which I guess wouldn't have been the end of the world but I wanted to make sure Henry associated Duck with D.

(I noticed when posting this online before that he is drawing with his left hand.  He usually draws/writes with his right hand but does other things lefty like batting and golfing.  I have a picture from later in the week where he's using his right hand with a marker. Funny.)

D week was quite Delicious!  Henry and I made Dirt Dessert, which is such a fun thing to make and to eat.  Henry was in charge of smashing the cookies to make the "dirt".  He really enjoyed this part of the activity.

He also really enjoyed being on Worm Duty.  He didn't last long on this duty because he realized the gummy worms were delicious and started eating them instead of putting them into the dirt.  (Smart boy!)
We got to share the Dirt with Eddie's family that night.  They all enjoyed it but Henry didn't care about the dessert except for the worms, which he insisted be cleaned off before he ate them.  (Strange boy!)

One night during the week Eddie and I took Henry to the local firestation because they were holding an Open House for Fire Prevention Week.  We all had a really good time.  Henry LOVED it all, especially getting to ride around the block in a fire truck!  (I know Fire Truck has nothing to do with D week but he was so cute I had to share!)

After the adventure at the fire station we went to Dunkin Donuts so that Eddie could partake in some D Week fun too.

We also took a trip to the Dollar Store and found a fun pack of little dinosaurs that we brought home.  We had some fun making dino footprints in Play-doh.

Henry has loved using bingo markers/dabbers for quite some time now so I was excited to find out that there are a lot of free printables on the internet that have the kiddos use their bingo markers to follow patters, make letters/shapes, etc.  (They are frequently called "Do A Dot" in case you are googling for them.)  I found a neat set on another mommyblog that goes with the alphabet that we haven't used much yet but I tried them out with Henry this week.  He had fun and after going nuts on the first one he was more thoughtful/careful with putting the marker down only on the dots. 

One thing that I loved about us working at a college (and now just Eddie working at one) is being able to be involved on campus in fun ways.  I remember working at CNU pre-Henry and loving seeing our colleagues bringing their families to various campus events.  The kids always thought it was really cool and the students (I think anyway) liked having little kids around.  I am enjoying being able to bring Henry to Eddie's office for lunches now and again and also taking him to events on campus.  One of the highlights of this week was getting to have some fun at Octoberfest at Ramapo College (where Eddie works).  The event was for students and their families so there was a plethora of fun things to do like inflatable obstacle courses, balloons, carnival games, etc.  Henry was in heaven! 

One of his favorite things actually fit in with D week!  It was a giant inflatable dragon that you could walk through!

(Thanks to Kat for being our official photographer!)

We had quite a few D books in our collection at home (Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs by Sandra Boynton is a Henry-favorite) but I also got a few at the library.  Turns out that there were two superpicks out of what we brought home!  (We've even had to read them into E week!)

Dimity Duck by Jane Yolen and Duck Goes Potty by Michael Dahl were both hits.  We read them dozens of times and they made Henry giggle, which made me giggle so everyone wins! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Alphabet Adventure: Letter C

Letter C Week started out with a spur-of-the-moment trip to a local Craft fair.  We didn't purchase any crafts or really talk about what a craft was so this doesn't really count.  The only thing Henry got super-excited about was getting to climb in and on a firetruck (NOT a C word!).  But he sure looked cute (c word!) doing it!  (Thanks to M for taking this picture on her phone.)

Our Letter C craft this week was a Caterpillar shaped like a C. I printed the circles on cardstock and then let Henry paint them.  This week we experimented with sponge painting.  Henry didn't really want to stamp the sponges but liked smearing the paint around with the sponges.  After the paint dried I cut the circles out and then we worked together to glue them to a C that I had cut out.  He kept calling it his "hungry petapillar" so we made sure to watch an animated version of the story online and read the book after we finished the project.

I'm trying to do more cooking with Henry so this week we made cookies and also carrot bread.  Henry didn't really do much assisting with the carrot bread as he was too busy chomping a giant carrot and Skyping with my parents while I did the rest of the cooking.  (I had never made carrot bread before but it is pretty tasty.  It was a good way to use up some carrots that were just sitting in the fridge.)

Here is Chef Henry on cookie day, wearing the apron and chef's hat that our friend Meredith made for him for his birthday:

We finished up C week with a big road trip south to Clemson!  Eddie and I had not been to campus since 2009 so we were excited (especially Eddie) to share it with Henry.  We were lucky enough to be able to stay with a former student that we worked with at CNU who is now going to grad school there.  She was a perfect hostess and even helped us celebrate C week by having cookies for Henry to decorate!

We all went to the big football game on Saturday.  We headed to campus early to enjoy some tailgating and to watch the marching band's pre-game performance.  Henry was a trooper all day, especially considering he had to skip his nap because of game time.  His favorite parts of the game were the balloons they let go at the start of the game, the fireworks after each score and getting to spell C-L-E-M-S-O-N over and over again during Tiger Rag.

It was a really great weekend for our little family.  Henry was a super-trooper in the car and it was fun to share things with him.  He and I looked through the pictures from the weekend on the computer this morning and he got excited about everything all over again.  It's fun to know that we are building memories.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Alphabet Adventure: Letter B Week

After a successful Letter A week we bounded into B week with a trip into the city (New York City) to the Broadway Flea Market with some friends.  We checked out the flea market and then met up with another friend in Bryant Park.  Henry LOVED chasing the birds (another B word!) and got to ride on the carousel (not a B word but it was a fun thing for him to do).  It was neat to watch him looking around at everything in the city.  It will be fun to do this more as he gets older.

For our B Week Letter B craft we decorated a B to look like a bee.

My parents came into town on Tuesday so they got to have some Letter B fun with us.

We made a delicious Banana Cream Pie.  Henry had fun making the pie (especially smashing the graham crackers for the crust with his hammer!) but didn't really like the product. 

We experimented with a Glow Bath.  This was Henry's favorite activity of the week.  I found the information about it online and thought it looked and sounded awesome.  I used a few highlighters to make the water black-light reactive, tossed in some glowsticks and glow in the dark animals (both from the dollar store) and flipped on the blacklight.  The water did not glow brightly like I hoped but it still looked pretty cool, mostly because of the glowsticks.

Henry played for a long time in the glow bath.  We ended up draining out the highlighter water and filled the tub again and put some Johnson and Johnson vapor bath soap in (Henry had a stuffy nose last week) and the glowsticks looked really neat under the bubbles.  In the future we'll just skip the highlighter part of the activity and use bubbles.

Note: The Dollar Tree around here has packs of 15 glowsticks for a dollar. We did a second glow-bath later in the week sans-hightlighter water and three glowsticks with some bubbles were enough to amuse Henry for quite a while.

Bubble beard in the bath:

We also experimented with painting with bubbles.  It took us a little bit to get the technique down but once we figured out it worked best to get clusters right down on the paper and let them sit until they popped we had some success. 

We also read lots of books that featured the letter B like Baby Beluga and Little Pig Joins the Band.
Overall, another good week of Alphabet Adventure.  On to Letter C!